Gmail Outage Sends Thousands of Blank Emails to Hotmail Account - The UpStream

Gmail Outage Sends Thousands of Blank Emails to Hotmail Account

posted Saturday Jan 25, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Gmail Outage Sends Thousands of Blank Emails to Hotmail Account

Apparently, because of a glitch in some Google code somewhere that appeared only after the Gmail outage this week, a simple search for Gmail on Google will give you the unfortunate ability to email David S. Peck of Fresno, California. Who is Peck, you might ask? Some guy who happens to have a Hotmail account that is, for whatever reason, pre-populated into a compose window on the search results page.

According to Peck, he has received several thousand emails with no subject or body, simply a Google account in the from line. As of yesterday, I was personally able to reproduce the bug, but today it seems to have been masked from the search results. It could have to do with Gmail being back up and running, or it could be a hidden result because of the issue.

Peck said,

I've been getting thousands of no-subject, blank emails. 500 of them come every hour, I can't stop them. They're coming so fast, I want to stop them. I deleted everything last night and woke up this morning and had 1,900 new emails. Only two of them were emails I cared about.

As if this isn't bad enough, Peck may not be the only one affected. In fact, reports of several other individuals having their email addresses populated into the same compose window have been reported. As it turns out from a response from Google sent to Tech Crunch,

Due to a technical glitch, some email addresses on public webpages appeared too prominently in search results. We've fixed the issue and are sorry for any inconvenience caused.

It is safe to assume that, if an email address appeared anywhere in the top 10 results, it would populate into that box. As the day went on and more people found out about Mr. Peck, his name became more and more likely to be in that window, but earlier in the bug it would have been affected by your personalized search results.

This is a weird "technical glitch" that I am unable to figure out how it came about. It seems like it would have had to be somehow on purpose, possibly implemented during testing and published on accident. What really baffles me is how someone's Hotmail address would be in the top results for the word "gmail" on Google's own search engine. Leave it to Google, though, to use their search engine to accidentally promote a competitor's user.


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