In what turned out to be a simple coincidence, over the weekend, Windows Live Messenger users reported that they were unable to send YouTube links to their contacts. The screenshot below from I Started Something shows that when a user tried to send any type of link with “youtube.com” in it, the message failed to be delivered. We say this in the past tense because it has been fixed, but as you can imagine, people started complaining and wondering if Microsoft was intentionally doing this because Google is one of their biggest competitors, and YouTube is owned by Google.
Eventually Microsoft responded about the issue yesterday and explained why it had happened because there were all kinds of off-the-wall explanations that people outside of Microsoft came up with. One of the major themes of explanations that people came up with was that Microsoft was trying to undermine Google. Now wouldn’t that be somethin’ if Microsoft actually tried to do that! The explanation from Microsoft actually sounds legitimate which leaves us to believe that it was simply a coincidence that YouTube happened to be a domain that Windows Live Messenger was blocking.
About the explanation…
In a nutshell, Microsoft explained that what happened was Messenger was incorrectly blocking some legitimate IP addresses. They have a blocking system in place to help prevent harmful things like malware from being sent on to Messenger users, and this process is managed by a 3rd party, one of their partners. In determining whether a URL is harmful, they look at factors like how many times a URL is sent, or how many accounts the URL is sent from. If the automatic system from their 3rd party determines that a URL is harmful, then they can block either a URL or an entire domain — in this case, YouTube.
It makes sense, but Microsoft would be wise to go back to their 3rd party and work on creating a more comprehensive white-list of domains that shouldn’t ever be blocked, e.g., YouTube.
Thanks for the tip Yanksy!