Google announced two security features intended to make browsing safer. One blocks access to suspicious websites. The other, a Chrome browser extension flags virtually any site visited as being suspicious. Unless your site is a big brand website, there is a higher probability that it will flag your site as suspicious, too.
Multitude of False Positives
A false positive is a mistaken result, like when an algorithm mistakenly identifies a normal site as a spam site. That’s called a false positive.
The new feature is a Chrome browser extension that allows users to report suspicious websites but also alerts users to suspicious websites.
The new Chrome suspicious site extension is so aggressive that it even flagged the official announcement of the browser extension with two warnings:
Chrome Extension Slightly Biased to Big Brands
The Chrome Suspicious Site Reporter extension is biased in favor of big brand websites. It will not automatically raise a flag as long as they are in the top 5,000 websites.
If a visitor has never been to a big brand site and visits it for the first time or has visited within the last three months, no flag of suspicion will be raised.
Big Brands Can Still be Flagged as Suspicious
Although the extension is biased in favor of big brands, being a big brand does not make it entirely immune to being flagged as suspicious.
If a user hasn’t visited a site within the last three months, then even a big brand will receive a flag.
Walmart Flagged as Suspicious
Mozilla Flagged as Suspicious
Below is a screenshot of a flag given to Mozilla, creators of the competing Firefox browser. The Chrome extension flagged Mozilla as suspicious because I hadn’t visited the site within the last three months.
Biased Against Small Websites
The Suspicious Site Reporter extension will automatically flag all small websites. Only big brand websites that are among the top 5,000 sites get a pass. Everyone else will get flagged as suspicious.
If your website is not among the top 5,000 websites on the entire Internet, the Chrome browser extension will flag your site as suspicious. That’s a defacto bias against small business websites, affiliate sites, and literally most sites on the Internet.
Here is how Chrome describes the extension:
“With the Suspicious Site Reporter extension, you’ll see an icon when you’re on a potentially suspicious site, and more information about why the site is suspicious. Click the icon to report unsafe sites to Safe Browsing for further evaluation.”
This is where you can install the Suspicious Site Reporter Extension. Install it then check if the extension flags your sites as suspicious.
Chrome Security Extension and Witch Hunts
Centuries ago, well meaning people blamed bad events on witches, falsely identifying innocent people as witches.
This new Chrome extension appears to do the same thing. It identifies innocent websites as suspicious.
With the Suspicious Site Reporter Extension, Google has decided that the quality of being small is a negative factor. The extension flags sites as suspicious just because they are small.
Does that seem right to you?
Read the official Chrome announcement here: New Chrome Protections from Deception