Google has apologized for a technical glitch that shared some users' private videos stored in Google Photos with strangers. The issue affected a fraction of Google Photos users who used Google Takeout to download data from Google apps as a backup or to use with another service. But what appears to have affected 0.01 percent users is a serious breach as Google Photos has more than 1 billion users.
Google admitted fault, which led to a small number of users receiving private videos that didn't belong to them and alerted its users. According to the company, the breach in Google Takeout service was caused due to a "technical issue" from 21-25 November last year. But Google's email alerting users did not divulge details about the incident.
"We are notifying people about a bug that may have affected users who used Google Takeout to export their Google Photos content between November 21 and November 25. These users may have received either an incomplete archive, or videos — not photos — that were not theirs. We fixed the underlying issue and have conducted an in-depth analysis to help prevent this from ever happening again. We are very sorry this happened," a Google spokesperson said in a statement to 9to5Google.
What should users do?
Users who requested a backup during the time Google Takeout was facing a technical glitch ended up receiving videos that didn't belong to them. Not just that, other users also trying to download their data through Google Takeout might have received some of your videos.
Google said it fixed the issue with Google Takeout, but also urged its users to delete any exports from that time. Users are requested to download their back up again.
Google also notified users that only videos were accidentally shared with strangers and photos were not affected by the glitch. But users were not happy that this happened and shared their frustration on social media platforms.
To be clear, this is a big screw-up. I hope the number of affected parties is small, but the impact to those parties could be high...and very unsettling. But my real beef is with this nonchalant and non-specific notification email. Hopefully Google follows up with more comms," Jon Oberheide, Co-Founder and CTO at Duo Security, said about the incident on Twitter.
We at Google are sorry if you choose to feel that this is a problem," another user tweeted.
Sorry for the inconvenience" Most cliche corporate non-apology speak of all time," tweeted a user.