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Weird Gmail Auto-Complete Errors Causing Some Users To Send Messages To The Wrong Recipient

February 23, 2015 - Written By David Steele

In an average 24 hour period, 175 billion email messages are sent around the world and an unknown proportion of these are to the wrong recipient. We don’t know the exact proportion because this information is not admitted or checked. We’ve today caught an interesting article in the Business Insider where a number of Gmail users are reporting that the auto-completion for their Gmail account is not working properly. This is the feature whereby Gmail pre-populates the recipient field of a new email or forward based on who you usually email even before you’re typed in a few characters. However, the flaw is that rather than prioritizing recently and frequently emailed contacts, instead Gmail is retrieving infrequently contacted email addresses. If the writer of the email doesn’t check the address that the email is going to, it could be sent to the wrong person.

Whilst it is the responsibility of the writer to ensure that the email is properly addressed, this is an unusual problem with the Gmail client and could easily catch users out. There have been several Tweets about the issue: venture capitalist, Fred Wilson, Tweeted a complaint that yesterday he received several emails that clearly weren’t meant for him. There are plenty of other Gmail users complaining about the issue on Twitter, too. The strangeness of the issue is that it doesn’t impact on everybody and the exact proportion of users with the issue is currently unknown. This could be a regional, time zone issue, or perhaps a seemingly random selection of users with the issue.

Google has acknowledged the issue via Twitter account and it is currently being investigated. It’s unclear what’s caused the problem or a timescale for a resolution. Google is keeping quiet with the details, presumably until they have a handle on the issue.

To our readers, have you experienced any issues with the Gmail auto-complete function when writing emails in the last couple of days? If so, when did it start? What computer(s) does it impact? Or have you managed to send the wrong email to the wrong recipient in the past? Did it have a happy ending or an unfortunate ending? Let us know in the comments below.

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