An “ugly” mistake by African ISP MainOne sent Google data for search and cloud services astray for more than an hour on Monday.
The data was sent the wrong way when MainOne Cable, in Nigeria, updated address books for key network hardware.
The update saw it claim to be the best way to reach millions of Google net addresses.
The mistake spread to other networks and led to Google traffic travelling via China and Russia.
In a tweet, MainOne said the mistake had been made during a “planned network upgrade”.
It added: “The error was corrected within 74 minutes and processes put in place to avoid reoccurrence.”
All the different networks that make up the internet constantly swap information about the best way to reach other parts of the global system.
Mistakes on one network can mean traffic is re-routed the wrong way.
Google said it had spotted the error and blamed it on “incorrect routing” of data.
A spokesman for the search giant told technology news website Ars Technica that all traffic sent the wrong way was encrypted, which should “limit” any damage caused by it being misdirected.