Oops: Google Talk Messages Reach Wrong Recipients

Imagine your worst digital nightmare: Your message to co-worker Sam that Larry is being cut by Friday goes to Sam, and Larry, and Larry's wife who works two floors down.

By Thursday, a global OMG went up and lasted for hours as Google Talk users worst nightmares came true. Unfortunately, there was no waking up because it wasn't a bad dream -- it was reality.

A Google misfire caused the Google Talk instant messaging service to send chat messages to the wrong recipients.

Reports from users discovering their messages were being received by people never intended to see those messages started pouring forth on Twitter and in Google product forums.

Defining Normal

Words like "terrifying" and frustrated reports of "just received a message from a contact sent to someone else" kept rolling in. The problem, based on user complaints posted online, appeared to have no set pattern. Rather, users experienced a hornet's nest of messages getting reshuffled. One victim reported that a chat intended for A went to B and when the user tried to tell B about it, C got the message.

With complaints snowballing, Google eventually felt the weight of an OMG pileup. Google engineers let their Google Talk users know that they were aware of a problem and that "Google Talk was gradually returning to normal." The question is, how normal was normal?

The Internet search giant's "Google Talk -- Service Details" page sent a logic-challenged message this morning timed 7:15 ET that said the "issue has been resolved and all services are gradually returning to normal. We will update when full service is restored." If the issue was resolved, why was full service not yet restored?

Three hours later on Thursday Google issued another head-scratching update, saying "We are continuing to investigate this issue. We will provide an update...

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