Google made a stunning yet necessary decision to de-index the entire CO.CC domain. Many people confuse the site as a TLD (top level domain) when in actuality it simply hosted millions of sub-domains, with many of those being used for nefarious purposes.
Comments and email spam with links to co.cc hosted sites was a common problem for many site managers and Google’s decision to remove millions of junk pages from their results is definitely welcomed. There are probably a few legitimate sites caught by Google’s removal, but those webmasters should send a reconsideration request to Google if they feel they were unfairly punished. Either that or get their own domain and start over.
This is the first time a domain of this size has been removed from the index. It should serve as a notice to freehosts and sites that provide free hosting that they need to implement spam control policies and monitor the use of their sub-domains. I know it may seem difficult for a site like WordPress or Tumblr to police every single site that is created on their domain, but there are patterns that spammers use that can be filtered through an automated program.
For instance, what if freehosts removed blogs, tags or comments containing the phrase “buy viagra?”. Tumblr shows 68,900 results for a search of that keyword and WordPress.com shows 62,800 results. A simple removal of spammer phrases seems like a no-brainer to me; I’ve never understood why sites don’t do these purges on a regular basis. The downfall of Myspace was caused in some part by rampant spam, so why don’t tech sites pay more attention to the issue?
The argument against automated purges is that some people write blog posts that are legitimately about the subject (news, rants like mine about spam). However, freehosts could easily program a filter to look at content as a whole and keep the sites that are newsworthy or offer critical opinion. We need to be proactive rather than reactive in our approach to managing and removing spam.