Yahoo marks dangerous search results

Martin Brinkmann
May 7, 2008
Updated • Dec 10, 2012
Internet, Search

Yahoo started to add a new feature to their search results pages called Searchscan which basically informs the user when a website is listed in the search results that has potentially dangerous content. According to Cybernet News three different warning messages are displayed in the search results depending on the dangers that await the user on these websites. One website can be flagged with more than one of the warning messages.

A Dangerous Downloads warning means that the website is serving potentially dangerous software that contains viruses or spyware. Unsolicited Emails on the other hand refers to websites that either send unsolicited emails to users or sell user emails. Sites that are flagged as Browser Exploits will not appear in the search engines anymore.

The options provide a way to change the default Searchscan setting which warns the user from potentially dangerous websites to removing those websites from the search results list or disabling Searchscan altogether.

The warning message appears above all search results to warn the user that some of the websites in the results are potentially dangerous and are also appearing right beneath the title of the website using red text and an exclamation mark icon.

This could help protect users who do not care enough about the dangerous corners of the Internet. I'm not sure on the other hand about the effectiveness of the service. How often is the database updated, how are new sites added to the list ? Still, all in all, it's good to see that search engines start to take responsibilities.


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  1. Jim Buckley said on July 10, 2008 at 5:42 am

    Yahoo has posted a false “Unsolicited Emails” warning associated with our website,, when searching for “Rumford fireplaces”. The warning is generated by Yahoo’s partner, McAfee SiteAdvisor. False because SiteAdvisor says they made that determination by “entering our e-mail address on this site”. Problem is, we have no forms or any other way to automatically enter an email message. I do all the site maintenance manually in html and sweep all the pages onto the Internet myself.

    Thinking that SiteAdvisor had somehow made a simple mistake, I tried to contact them by phone and email – to no avail. After a month of trying, I have not gotten to anyone who will listen. Rather, I get transferred from one anonymous customer relations person to another. Same so far with McAfee and Yahoo.

    So I have complained to the Washington Attorney General and the California and Texas Better Business Bureau and have hired a lawyer – just to try to get someone in charge to talk with me.

    I have also spent some time surfing the blogs to see what others think about McAfee and Yahoo. I learned that McAfee falsely targets many websites with their faulty but arrogantly defended technology – and then blames their victims. There is plenty of discussion about the websites McAfee has falsely red tagged on several blogs, such as and

    I also discovered at that McAfee paid a $50 million penalty to settle a lawsuit filed against them by the SEC for fraud.

    Anyone want to join us in a class action suit please contact me.

  2. Robert said on June 13, 2008 at 7:41 am

    I think quite the opposite.

    Point 1

    My website is marked as having dangerous downloads and this is causing me business damage however, we have no dangerous downloads on our website.

    Point 2

    The databse used is by McAfee under site advisor. This is also shown on Yahoo as being the source. As of today (june 13th 2008) our website is still being so represented in error AND McAfee on their own website publich the database as being of December 2007.

    Point 3
    No company has the right of incorrect slander and in attempts to take the responsibility and protect internet users, that company must also take the responsibility to ensure data is correct otherwise they cross the fine line between public opinion/free speach and slander.

    My contact with both Yahoo and McAfee has been without fruit, as one can expect with such large companies. Contact with customer services about the problem has left me with nothing.

    I have been forced to collect screenshots of the slander, collect documented thrid party proof that our website does not hold dangerous downloads and forced to collect leters and other proof from our customers regarding measurement of business damage.

    Now I am trying a final time to contact the companies involved and with no anger, request that they update their systems. But to be honest, my patience is wearing thin.

    So I say WELL DONE GOOGLE and dont try to be more policemen on this planet, unless of course your are preparaed to accept ALL the responsibilities.

  3. francois said on May 7, 2008 at 11:51 am

    I’m a google junkie. Every six months or so I use Yahoo and MS search engine just to see how long I can stand and have a good laugh. I don’t now what Yahoo as done to its search engine lately but I find it now as good as Google’s. I’m chocked, it’s been two weeks I’m using it and is now my default search engine. O_o

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