If it could go wrong…

This week it did. I hope most of you missed it all, but some of you got strange messages when you tried to go to the Empire Page during the week. We’re still working to fix the problem, but here in a nutshell is what happened:

Our ad server — the software that manages the ads that appear on the Empire Page — apparently was being hosted by an ISP that was identified as supporting “attack sites”. I’m not even sure what that means, but the end result was that people who came to the Empire Page were given a warning by Google that our site might be an attack site.

We ended up shutting down the ad server and are moving it to a new location. It’s still not functional, but should be in a day or two.

What is distrubing about this whole affair is how Google operates. They act like police, judge and jury — condemning our site and damaging our reputation without attempting to communicate with the owners of the site. I only found out when a subscriber called me. At that point I followed Google’s instructions to prove that we were okay, but it took them 10 hours to respond and even then their instructions were so vague I could not understand them.

Fortunately, my technical support team which includes my current and former programmers helped get me through the mess, but understand that Google did all that without the involvement of a human being. It was a program that decided all sites with any relationship to the compromised server were dangerous, a program that sent out the warnings, a program that acted in response to my trying to clear our name, etc. I doubt any person working for Google has any idea all of this happened. That’s unacceptable and probably illegal.

The Empire Page has many elected officials among its subscribers. If you’re an elected official and have the opportunity to look into how one company can get away with having so much unchecked power, please do so. I’ll be glad to provide more details.

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