And you thought you had a rough week. As you may recall, on Friday Gmail was down worldwide for about 20 minutes, forcing users to communicate via phone and smoke signal. But in an apparently unrelated glitch that same day, Google also had thousands of mystery emails sent to some poor guy's Hotmail account.
David S. Peck was probably not expecting Google to mess with his email account like it had with everyone else's: Peck is a Hotmail user. But that was before he knew his account had become a top Google search result. On Friday, users who searched "Gmail" in Google, no doubt searching for a reason for the unbearable email outage, were shown a results page including a link labeled "Email" toward the top. But instead of taking users to a page that might, for instance, explain Google's wonderful and totally functional email services, the link for some reason opened up an email composition window with Peck's unique Hotmail address already in the recipient field.
Soon, blank messages from unknown addresses were coming in by the thousands. Said Peck to TechCrunch, “I’ve been getting thousands of no-subject, blank emails. 500 of them come every hour, I can’t stop them.” It apparently resulted in his missing several messages that were actually relevant to his life. “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” he continued. “Only two of them were emails I cared about.”
Although Peck is likely the most unfortunate victim of the glitch, he may not be alone. As early as Monday, Search Engine Land found that the same search result brought up the Google account of a different user. There's no telling how many more people have been receiving emails from unknown senders who only want to know more about Gmail.
Google has still not revealed what caused the glitch, though the company claims it was totally unrelated to the day's more widespread problems. Nevertheless, it looks like Peck can finally take a moment to breathe – for now. Google released a statement on Friday night, which read, "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."