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Some personal notes on the case of byuu v. Google

Put simply: if the warnings were to escalate for not being addressed, I could see my entire website potentially blocked, which is something I’ve personally seen happen to a friend of mine who also hosted a completely safe binary: EliteMap, which was an editor for Pokemon games.

— byuu, Google Safe Browsing

That was me. I am the friend. Now, byuu described an issue somewhat different from mine. That article is about the higan multi-console emulator and how its latest release was googleblocked for being an “uncommon” download. No shit, we all cry out, it was just released that day. Now, byuu’s fear of the whole damn site being eventually turned red isn’t unfounded but I’d still like to describe why exactly mine was.

EliteMap was not an uncommon download. I’ve had this very subdomain for years now, and one of the first versions of my site had a custom-made content system with a matching uploader. That uploader happened to use the filebin directory, and I used it to release EliteMap 3.7 way back then. The problem was that DJ Bouché and I made it in Visual Basic 6, and I wanted to keep the download size down a bit so I compressed all the executables that made it up with UPX.

Bad move.

Some antivirus applications were a bit notorious even back then and the contents of elitemap37.zip were considered harmful by over-eager heuristics that thought if a Win32 executable is UPX-compressed, it must be hiding something. Oh well, no biggie. Just put up a note saying Avast sucks and get on with it, right?

I’ve replaced my site several times since then, though I still have backups. The one constant that I never removed for long? filebin/elitemap37.zip and filebin/sappy12.exe. I did that once, and soon enough people contacted me about it. So I put it back. History demanded it.

Then some time back, Google struck. I got word on the search console that elitemap37.zip was considered harmful and should be removed. I appealed, stating that the file is perfectly fine and AV are being silly about it… and it wasn’t long until my entire site was flagged and every page you’d try to open would turn the whole damn window red with danger. Twice, even.

So I heaved a heavy sigh and finally, after what might be ten years or more, deleted the damn file. And Sappy 1.2 along with it just in case. Sent word back to Google about having “fixed” it, and the red flag was lifted.

Happy new year to all of you, and a hearty fuck you to Google 🖕

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