|When searching for illegal drugs, government agencies aren’t where most people think to start.
But you wouldn’t know that by looking on Google. Pages advertising illegal drugs hosted on websites for government agencies, businesses, and nonprofits feature prominently in Google searches.
It’s all thanks to a loophole made possible by a recent change in how the search-engine giant indexes web content, writes Insider’s Katherine Long.
In simple terms, many websites’ internal search functions create a new, permanent webpage for every unique search a user enters. Previously, that wasn’t an issue since these web pages never appeared in Google searches because website owners restricted Google from indexing them.
However, Google recently said its automated web crawler could “automatically” discern which user-generated pages should appear in searches.
But, as Katherine’s reporting details, that hasn’t been the case.
The result is people using internal search functions to create webpages advertising drugs on websites viewed as trustworthy by Google. Insider identified more than four dozen websites, including our own, hijacked by the loophole.