from the consequences dept
Last month, Google announced even more significant changes in its effort to appease the legacy entertainment industry and to "fight piracy." This included a big adjustment to how it downranks sites based on DMCA filings. Apparently, the change pretty quickly resulted in popular torrent sites nearly disappearing from Google's index. Of course, as The Pirate Bay pointed out in response, this change actually meant that it got more direct traffic, since people unable to find what they wanted via Google knew to just go somewhere else instead.
But, of course, there are consequences to all of this and, into the fray, a bunch of "lesser known" torrent sites have suddenly been getting more traffic. And... it's also allowed sites more likely to push malware to rank much higher in Google results, as noted in new research by TorrentFreak:
While the sites mentioned above are offering torrents and clearly benefiting traffic-wise, we have deliberately left out several sites from our report. Thanks to their lack of DMCA breaches some sites are much closer to the top than they should be when Google is presented with movie + torrent searches. Sadly these sites have something evil in mind – malware.For years, of course, one of the go-to talking points for Hollywood was that engaging in unauthorized downloading would lead to malware -- and it's a talking point that never goes away. The thinking of Hollywood is that (1) this may scare some people away from file sharing and (2) they can claim to the press and politicians that they're looking out for the safety of the public with their policy recommendations.
Hollywood might publicly warn that some file-sharing sites are havens for viruses and spyware, but Google’s actions have dredged up the real filth from the bottom and that will mean a lot of people paying the price. Having these sites downranked is not on the agenda.
Except... in this case, it appears that it's their own silly demands to rewrite Google's search results that are actually putting more people at risk and driving more people to potential malware. Even if there was some malware on top sites, it was usually spotted and dealt with quickly, and rarely would get popular enough to be highly ranked. But by taking out the more accurate results, malware-laden efforts are suddenly able to rise up the rankings.
If the RIAA/MPAA were truly concerned about stopping malware, they'd recognize that their own demands to edit Google's search results have put people more at risk. But they won't, of course. Just like everything else, they'll likely blame Google and say that Google should figure out a way to fix this.
But here's the thing: this is what's bound to happen when someone wants to edit Google's results to what they want them to be, rather than what users want. This is the fundamental misunderstanding of the legacy entertainment industry in their hatred of Google. They think it's a search engine for the sites it finds, rather than a search engine for the users looking for stuff. It's a fundamental difference that makes all the difference in the world.