Google has released a new version of its browser toolbar designed to hijack 404 error pages. It was spotted by a blog known as Seoker.com.
As Google put it, when you use its new toolbar, “You’ll get suggestions instead of error pages: If you mistype a URL or a page is down, now the Toolbar will give you that familiar ‘Did you mean’ with alternatives, like when you do a Google search.”
In other words, if you key in a web address and the server you’re visiting can’t find that address, the toolbar will, in many cases, ignore the 404 error page returned by the server, displaying one supplied by Google instead. This Googlicious error page will give you alternative urls, but it also includes a Googlicious logo and a Googlicious search box.
Plus, as Seoker.com points out, the search box is pre-packed with words from the url you keyed in. So Google has yet another means of tracking your behavior.
Of course, Google doesn’t see the irony here. With his own blog post, Google search guru Matt Cutts said that if toolbar users and webmasters don’t like this, they can do something about it.
The only problem is that webmasters generally won’t know anything about it because they won’t know it’s happening.
From The Register.