Feb. 19, 2005 update: At my request, Google has cleared the cache for the map image in question. The problem now appears to be solved. It was a puzzling occurrence. The original post follows.
Go to Google.com, click on images, and then search for a map of mexico at MIT by entering “mexico map MIT” and then hit enter. The first map image that is returned should be “mexico.jpg” with a URL from MIT.edu. Yes, it’s a thumbnail of a real map of Mexico from MIT’s Website. But when you click on it, you will be mysteriously redirected to my Book of Mormon Evidences page, a page that has no such maps on it.
The displayed link for the map is for an MIT.edu URL, but the actual shortcut does a tricky redirect to my site. The shortcut (right click on the previous link and copy the shortcut and paste it somewhere to see – this blog gets messed up if I try to display the long continuous string) is where the problem is – take a look.
The trick in the shortcut is that the displayed URL and the actual URL of the original image is for the map at MIT.edu, which follows the “imgurl=” string, but the actual URL that the link takes your browser to follows the “imgrefurl=” string, and points to my site. Hey, that’s just not fair! The Google image service is hijacking people to a place they didn’t want to go. I like my site and all, but the hijacking is wrong – and I’m embarrassed to be the “honored” recipient. Have any of you seen this kind of thing before?
Has a warped Mormon hacker taken over Google?
I received an angry e-mail from a professor demanding that I quit hijacking Google’s image service. Boy, if I crooked enough and smart enough to hijack Google in that manner, I wouldn’t be wasting my time blogging and running an amateur informational Website in spare moments of free time – I’d be taking over the World Bank or Microsoft. Honestly, I have no idea why Google is unfairly favoring my Book of Mormon Evidences page. For some reason, MIT’s maps of Mexico are very popular, and the hijacking of Google is affecting nearly two thousand people every week, if my estimates are correct.
I have sent two e-mails to several groups at Google (no response yet after over a week) and to MIT’s Web staff, and MIT confirms that it appears to be a Google problem. Here is one of my e-mails:
I’m getting thousands of IMPROPER extra hits from Google by people who
are searching for images of Mexico, finding images at mit.edu, and then
getting mysteriously redirected to a page of mine. When people search
for maps of Mexico in Google images, the displayed imgurl is not equal
to the imgrefurl. The latter redirects people to one of my pages at
I don’t think MIT is doing this – it appears to be a bug at Google.
While I appreciate the traffic, something is clearly wrong. I don’t have
maps of Mexico on my site. People trying to find maps of Mexico are
being misdirected to my site. This is not good. Is there some way to fix
A few minutes ago, Google finally replied:
Thank you for your note. We apologize for our delayed response. We can
remove the cached copy of this image from our search results. Google’s
search results display cached copies of images so users can view an image
even if its server is down. A cached copy is a snapshot of the image from
the last time we visited it. Deleting the cached copy removes this
archived information from the web.
Please let us know if you would like us to delet this cached copy.
The Google Team
I’m not convinced they appreciate the nature or seriousness of the problem. I hate to have them simply clear the cache for MIT’s images – I’ll ask MIT if they are OK with that. But something bizarre is going on here. Any thoughts?