Google Talk/Hangout users receive messages that aren't meant for them

Furious Google Talk users have vented frustration on the product forums today after a major glitch allowed messages to be delivered to the wrong recipients.

The problem- which emerged earlier today- saw messages that were meant for a specific person being delivered to undesired recipients inside and outside of their contact lists.

For example: John is talking to contact A, but his messages are being sent to contact B instead. Contact B could respond confusingly, as they are receiving messages from another conversation. According to reports, contact B's response to John could even be sent to contact C instead.

These screenshots from blogger Vinay Kola, provide a visual explanation of the dilemma.

A message from Karthikeyan meant for Vinay ended up going to another user, Aman 

The issue has caused dozens of users to complain of privacy violations. Google forum user “mattiaz” says this problem has been one of the worst issues he has encountered through the service.

“Google, this is a major screwup, fix this asap and dont ever let it happen again, otherwise ppl will abandond your services. This is the worst security issue I've ever seen, it's worse than a virus.”

This comes as a blunder for Google, whose engineers are working hard to rectify the situation. A status reveals the service could be disrupted during the maintenance. In the meanwhile, users are advised to be cautious when using the service. Keep in mind that your messages could end up being read by a complete stranger, so it's advised not to talk about private issues. Thankfully, there are no known reports of sensitive personal information - such as bank details - that have been exposed. Google suggests the following remedies for the meantime:

Source: The Verge, Google Product Forum | Image via Vinay Kola

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14 Comments

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Reminds me of my wife's HTC Wildfire. It would occasionally send SMS to the wrong person due to a long standing Android bug. Of course HTC never released the patch for it and she had the problem for 2 years (when her contract expired). She then upgraded to a Nokia 820.

And it's over and a fix is being applied.

We are continuing to investigate this issue. We will provide an update by 9/26/13 12:00 PM detailing when we expect to resolve the problem.
Earlier today we identified an issue with Google Talk messages sent between 22:00 PST and 01:30 PST. Any messages sent after 01:30 PST are unaffected.

Reminds me a few few years ago, when they accidentally indexed the content of some Gmail users' inbox, making their personal messages appear in google search results.

more recently (last year), google apps has corrupted some users' calendar, making personal appointments appear in someone else's calendar.

link8506 said,
more recently (last year), google apps has corrupted some users' calendar, making personal appointments appear in someone else's calendar.

That's cool, suddenly you'd have a lot of exciting things to do on a slow day!