Google

Google glitch sends thousands of emails to man's Hotmail account

Jan. 24, 2014 at 6:06 PM ET

Image: Screenshot of Google search page
Google / NBC News
Screenshot of Google search page

Updated at 6:06 p.m. ET:
A Google spokesperson says the search glitch that flooded Peck's inbox was not related to the Gmail outage. Here's the statement provided to NBC News:

"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."

Original story:
David S. Peck won’t ever be one to complain about never getting any (e)mail anymore.

The Fresno, Calif., man on Friday was deluged with thousands of empty emails from strangers, all due to an apparent glitch in Google search.

Many users who searched for the term “gmail” were led to a results page with a normal-looking top result: “Gmail – Email from Google.” Just below the entry were two sublinks, one for “Email” and one for “Gmail – Google.” Clicking on the first sublink launched a Gmail window with a Hotmail email address – which happened to be poor Mr. Peck’s – automatically populated in the “To” field.

Peck told TechCrunch the flood of unsolicited emails started on Thursday. He said he deleted all the extraneous emails Thursday night, but woke up Friday to find his Hotmail inbox filled with 1,900 new emails. The email deluge continued for much of the day Friday.

“I've been getting thousands of no-subject, blank emails,” he told TechCrunch. “Five hundred of them come every hour, I can’t stop them.”

We were earlier able to reproduce the glitch, but by Friday afternoon Google appeared to have remedied the problem by removing the sublinks from the search result. (The Google search result/email glitch may have been going on for days; Search Engine Land reported on it on Monday.)

It was unclear whether the bug that bombarded Peck's inbox was related to a widespread Gmail outage reported by Google on Friday. The outage left many Gmail users around the world unable to send or receive email.

We’ve reached out to Google for comment and will update this story when we hear back.

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