Glitch Is Causing Thousands Of Emails To Be Sent To One Man’s Hotmail Account

David S. Peck is getting a lot of emails. In a glitch possibly related to the massive Gmail outage underway right now, there’s an odd bug in Google search which is pointing users directly to his personal email address. The address appears in a “Compose” window that pops up when the top search result for Gmail is clicked. Yes, it’s bizarre. Very, very bizarre.

Several of us at TechCrunch have been able to duplicate this bug, first brought to our attention by a tipster. Given whatever is going on with Gmail right now, your mileage, as they say, may vary. 

To reproduce the bug, first search for keyword “gmail” on Google. The top organic search result says “Gmail – Email from Google,” and beneath that are two other sub-links, one that says “Email” on the left, and the other which reads “Gmail – Google.” Click the one on the left (where the text reads “10+ GB of storage, less spam, and mobile access. Gmail is email …”)

gmail - Google Search

A Gmail compose window appears, and the email address dsp559 at hotmail – which none of us have in our address books – is automatically filled in.

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Another Google search surfaces who this address belongs to: one David S. Peck of Fresno, California. We even found his resume.

We spoke to Mr. Peck on the phone just now, and he says he’s been receiving thousands of emails, the majority of which are blank.

“I’ve been getting thousands of no-subject, blank emails,” he says. “500 of them come every hour, I can’t stop them.”

The issue actually started yesterday, he says, and he contacted Hotmail support this morning to try to get help. Ironically, he asked them to contact him at his alternate email address, which is Gmail.

Peck will not see their reply anytime soon, it seems.

The Hotmail address is his main account, and he’s now missing his important emails while under this deluge. “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 says. “Only two of them were emails I cared about,” he says. 

Though most of the emails are blank, a few say things like “who is this?,” or “why are you sending me these emails?,” something which has Mr. Peck concerned his address has been used in a hack or attack of some sort. Most of those who have written something to him appear to be foreign, based on their names.

We’re trying to reach someone at Google about this, and will update with more as we have it.

Update: This article and headline were edited to clarify this is a glitch and related to Gmail, but until we can confirm with Google we won’t assume it’s the same glitch that caused the Gmail outage or is related to that outage. A variation of this bug was spotted earlier, according to Search Engine Land.

Since publication, we’ve received tips that a number of other users may be affected in similar ways as Mr. Peck – that is, it’s their address that is appearing when the link is clicked by Google searchers.

UPDATE, 6 PM ET: A Google spokesperson provided the following:

“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.”

Google has also confirmed that today’s glitch was not related to today’s Gmail outage.


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