In another sign that quality assurance has gone downhill at Google, several media outlets are reporting that a “glitch” in the Monster of Mountain View’s Gmail product has resulted in an estimated one hundred and fifty thousand users temporarily losing access to all their email:
Google, we have a problem. About 150,000 Gmail account holders woke up to a nightmare this morning, with all their e-mail, attachments and Google Chat logs gone. What happened?
Google explains that “less than 0.08%” of all Gmail users were affected by the bug, which completely reset accounts, even down to the detail offering a welcome message to those users when they first logged on today. They, and especially visitors to the Gmail Help Forum, were not amused.
Nice. Of course, Google logs pretty much everything it can for data-mining purposes – which means ironically that its employees have access to the messages of the 150,000 affected users even the users themselves don’t.
A great many people have been lured into signing up for Gmail over the years because they’ve bought into Google’s marketing hype, or they’ve trusted someone who has. It’s true that Google has traditionally included features in Gmail that its competitors (Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail) haven’t, like unfettered POP and IMAP access. But Gmail’s competition is hardly the gold standard. The best email service usually costs money and comes with free, responsive technical support, along with generous storage limits and no advertising in the web interface.
Those who use Gmail not only consent to being spied on constantly by Google, they also run the risk that something like this will happen… and that when it does, they’ll be at the mercy of a faceless corporation that doesn’t provide dependable support.