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Google mistakenly floods internet with dummy ads

December 06, 2018 / Richard Waters

Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of FT.com T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email licensing@ft.com to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. A Google worker with a fat finger has committed a classic mistake in fast-moving electronic markets: hitting the wrong key during a training exercise, in the process injecting a dummy advert into a huge number of web pages and apps. The error, which happened late on Tuesday California time, saw the fake advert a blank yellow rectangle appear on many websites and in apps viewed in the US and Australia for a period of about 45 minutes. The failure to prevent such a basic human error is a black eye for Google, which has led the automation of online ad placement and is widely recognized as the leader in applying artificial intelligence to how such markets work.