Gmail Went Down Today, and Somehow Yahoo Came Out as the Loser

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Jan. 24 2014 7:21 PM

Yahoo Manages to Turn Gmail Outage Into Its Own Disadvantage

If there is one company in the world that probably should not be crowing about someone else's brief email outage, it's the one that just spent a good chunk of December dealing with massive email outages of its own. But crow it did, capitalizing on a rare hourlong Gmail outage to tweet a news update about its rival's misfortune to its 1.1 million followers, complete with screenshot.

Not surprisingly, some found a certain chutzpah in Yahoo's tweet. Realizing its misstep, the company followed up with a rather cryptic explanation ... and then a public apology.


Passive voice, as everyone knows, is the sincerest voice for an apology.

Oddly, this utterly transparent, calculated attempt to help Yahoo's cause did not end up helping Yahoo's cause. "Pathetic" was Farhad Manjoo's verdict. "Grow a Spine, Yahoo!" hooted Valleywag's Sam Biddle. When you earn the scorn of both Manjoo and Biddle at the same time, it's a good bet you're doing something wrong.

The consensus is that Yahoo had nothing to apologize for in the first place. But I'd argue its real mistake was misidentifying the victim. The only thing harmed by Yahoo's tweet was Yahoo's own image. Apologizing to Google was like throwing a stone from your glass house, watching it drop harmlessly to the ground as the shards rain down on your head, and then apologizing to the person who's standing out on the sidewalk laughing at you.

GigaOm's Tom Krazit may have summed it up best.

I think it's safe to say the Marissa Mayer honeymoon is over.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Previously in Slate:

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.


Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

Even When They Go to College, the Poor Sometimes Stay Poor

Here’s Just How Far a Southern Woman May Have to Drive to Get an Abortion

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?


Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 3:53 PM Smash and Grab Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?
Oct. 20 2014 5:39 PM Whole Foods Desperately Wants Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 5:03 PM Marcel the Shell Is Back and as Endearing as Ever
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.