Days-Old Error In Google Search Causes Gmail User To Get Thousands Of Emails

Earlier this week, we reported a glitch in Google Search, where clicking on a link after a search for Gmail listed someone’s email address, complete in a window ready to send them email. With today’s Gmail outage, that error — never fixed — has resulted in at least one person getting thousands of unwanted emails.

You can still see the error now. Search for “gmail” in Google:

gmail error

Under the main listing, you’ll see an “Email” link — what’s called a “sitelink” that’s designed to help people navigate to specific places within a web site.

The problem is, that link doesn’t point to a page within Gmail that talks about Gmail’s features. Instead, it lists someone’s email address and causes a compose window to appear, as shown above.

When we reported on this Monday, the email address led to someone with an account using the domain. Today, it’s someone with a Hotmail account — and that person says they are being flooded with email.

“I’ve been getting thousands of no-subject, blank emails …. 500 of them come every hour, I can’t stop them,” said David S. Peck, in a story from TechCrunch about how he’s being hammered by emails.

This error is not caused by Gmail having gone down briefly today. As noted above, it was a problem from at least this past Monday. However, when Gmail crashed, there was likely a spike in people searching for Gmail on Google, and a rise in clicks on this secondary URL, since the main Gmail link wasn’t working. In turn, Peck likely started getting all these emails.

Why his address? Why someone else’s address earlier this week? If we learn more from Google, we’ll let you know.

Postscript: Google said this is now fixed, sending us this statement:

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.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Google: Gmail | Google: Sitelinks | Google: Web Search | Top News


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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