google-search Denys Prykhodov / Shutterstock.com

Update: Mere seconds after posting this article (and grabbing the screenshot below), Google has declared google.com to be safe once again. But we already knew that.

Google warned us against visiting google.com last year but it has now happened again. Yesterday, a Redditor noticed that Google’s Safe Browsing site checker tool flagged google.com as a potentially dangerous site to visit, noting that “some pages on google.com contain deceptive content right now”. But before we all start switching to Bing (which is apparently perfectly safe), let’s set the record straight.

While the Safe Browsing site status tool warns that “some pages on this website redirect visitors to dangerous websites that install malware on visitors’ computers” and that “dangerous websites have been sending visitors to this website” it doesn’t take much to realize this is all a bit overblown.

Safe Browsing Site Status

Naturally, malware-ridden websites are going to direct visitors to google.com: it’s google.com after all. And as for google.com itself hosting dangerous content that “might try to trick you to download software or steal your information (for example passwords, messages, or credit card information)”, the warning more than likely refers to bad actors using Google services to host or link to dodgy content.

The irony of Google warning us to beware of Google trying to access our passwords, credit card information and messages isn't lost on me.

While the irony of Google warning us to beware of Google trying to access our passwords, credit card information and messages isn’t lost on me, there’s no real need to panic. Plenty of generally safe site are flagged as partially dangerous. Just think of a sketchy link posted on Facebook, or a suspect file shared on Github.

User-generated content is the problem here, not Google. As the fine print on the Safe Browsing page says: “users sometimes post bad content on websites that are normally safe.” It’s near impossible to police all sites all the time, especially when you are scanning billions of websites daily and 400 million devices a day. But, just for kicks, why not try switching to Bing or Yahoo for a day and see if you’re willing to take your chances with Google.

Which browser do you use? Have you inadvertently downloaded malware from a suspicious site?