Nasty Gmail Bug Erroneously Marks Unread E-mails As Read

I haven’t noticed this myself today, but it appears at least a subset of Gmail users are inadvertently drawing closer to an inbox with zero unread e-mails thanks to a nasty bug that marks messages as read even before the user opens them.

Former TechCrunch writer Ouriel Ohayon was one of the first to signal the bug on Twitter – with many of his followers echoing the phenomenon – and a quick search shows other users are seeing the same thing. Some are evidently fearing that their accounts were hacked or at least accessed by someone else.

According to this post, the error stems from a change Google made in how it treats the body of an e-mail through IMAP, although the company has yet to confirm this to us (or publicly).

The author of the post also offers a quick fix:

I then relaxed and searched on Twitter and it appears others were also impacted when Google modified how it handles IMAP GET MESSAGE BODY. Even mails on my iPhone were effected by this.

Anyway, thank you to our first user who pinged us so that we could correct this in real time. And for all of you IMAP Geeks around the world, set the PEEK mode to TRUE if you get an mail’s BODY from Gmail.

Update: The Next Web got a response from Google about the bug we first reported on – even though we did not despite contacting the company’s PR department well in time – and ran the following statement:

“Last night we pushed a code change in Gmail that negatively affected a small number of IMAP clients, causing unread email to appear as “read.” Only a handful of users experienced this, as most IMAP clients remained unaffected. We’ve since reverted the change and the problem has been resolved.”

(Gfail image from Tecnoblog)