Search engine Google came to a grinding halt when a "human error" temporarily prevented millions of people from finding web pages on the Internet.
Google incorrectly labelled all other websites as potentially harmful and stopped Internet users from directly clicking through to their search results as a message flashed: "Warning! This site may harm your computer."
The problem arose at around 2.30 pm GMT on Saturday and was only fixed after almost 40 minutes by which time millions of users had been affected.
The company later announced that the fault had been caused by "human error" during updation of harmful sites, when a single forward slash (/) was put on the list in place of a full web address, effectively blacklisting every website as all addresses contain the character, the media reported.
"This was clearly an error, and we are very sorry for the inconvenience caused to our users. What happened? Very simply, human error," Vice-President for search products and user experience, Marissa Mayer, wrote on the company's blog.
In fact, Google receives regular updates to a list of malicious websites from 'StopBadware.Org', which investigates consumer complaints.
"We periodically receive updates to that list and received one such update to release on the site this morning. Unfortunately (and here's the human error), the URL of '/' was mistakenly checked in as a value to the file and '/' expands to all URLs," she explained on the blog.
California-based Google, however, said the problem was identified "speedily" and promised to investigate the incident "and put more robust file checks in place to prevent it from happening again".