Gmail Outage Provokes Onion Satire

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

Was a break in Gmail service designed to show “Google’s immense power”?

An intermittent outage of Google’s Gmail service provoked a storm on Twitter, and a satirical response from the Onion website – which suggested such outages are a deliberate bid to “show its immense power”

Google’s status page for Gmail and other services showed a brief outage for the service, but didn’t mention outages on Google Drive and Google Play which were also reported. Many people reported that the problem also caused Google’s Chrome browser to crash.

beneficent google ©- the Onion

Tithe to Google?

Satire site The Onion’s response was swift and pithy (and very possibly a coincidence): “Google shuts down Gmail for two hours to show its immense power,” it tweeted, linking to a video item which included other satirical news.

If Google was not “appeased” by a 20 percent increase in Google Chrome downloads, the Onion said, Google would “take back our generous gift unto mankind of Colored Conversation Labeling”.

The Onion also provided a new Google Doodle underlining the search giants power over its users.

Discussion on Twitter suggested the problem was caused by an update to mobile versions of the applications, which was promoted heavily in Google Mail inboxes around the time of the outage.

Gmail failed in June for arond 800,000 users, and in April for five million. The size of this outage is as yet unknown (though Google’s PR has promised to get back to us). But it was Tweeted by users in multiple languages, suggesting it was widespread.

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