Google zaps official blog by mistake

Google employees accidentally deleted the company's main official blog Monday night, and an external user took control of the address.

Google has pie on its face after staffers accidentally deleted the company's main official blog Monday night and a user unaffiliated with Google temporarily took possession of the Web address.

This is just the latest in a recent string of embarrassing mistakes made by Google employees while handling company data.

While no big firm is immune to mistakes of this type, Google has experienced a string of them in recent weeks, and this is concerning, an analyst said. "It makes it look like Google can't run its own shop and it lowers your confidence in the firm. That's not good for Google's valuation nor for its customers. Google needs to get its house in order," said analyst Rob Enderle from Enderle Group.

Earlier this month, Google accidentally posted a confidential financial forecast on its Web site, which negatively affected the company's stock price. It also prompted Google to file a note with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission saying the information was outdated, not for public consumption and shouldn't be relied upon for financial planning purposes.

Also in early March, Google had to scramble to remove some presentation slides from its Web site because they contained confidential information about unannounced products. The slides had been put online to complement presentations given by Google's top executives, including Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt, at the company's annual meeting with Wall Street analysts.

The latest gaffe was acknowledged Monday at about 11:15 pm Pacific Time, when a Google product manager confirmed that the Google Blog, as it is officially called, had earlier been deleted by mistake and that the blog address was temporarily claimed "by another user."

This faux pas could have caused chaos for Google. This main official blog, at http://googleblog.blogspot.com/, is one of the company's main communication vehicles. Because its postings are vetted, official corporate information, they often trigger immediate reaction, like news reports, analyst recommendations and investor decisions.

Luckily for Google, the user who snapped up the address didn't seem to have bad intentions. His only posting read in part: "Google, fix your blog pleeasssee! P.S. Just to clear things up, I'm not associated with Google at all. I just wanted to take advantage of this before someone else with less worthy intentions did." He has identified himself as a 19-year-old University of Texas student.

The Google errors are particularly damaging to a company whose business revolves around managing information.

Not only could the user have distributed misinformation about Google, he could have used the site to propagate malware, Enderle said. "He could have done a substantial amount of damage in a very short time," he said.

So far, Google's only official reaction to the mistake is the official note posted Monday night. "The blog was mistakenly deleted by us (d'oh!) which allowed the blog address to be temporarily claimed by another user. This was not a hack, and nobody guessed our password. Our bad," reads the posting in part. The Google Blog is hosted on the Blogger service, which Google owns.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service

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