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

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.

Advertisement

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.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 2 2014 8:07 AM The Dark Side of Techtopia
  Life
Quora
Oct. 2 2014 8:27 AM How Do Teachers Kill the Joy of Reading for Students?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 2 2014 7:30 AM What Put the Man in the Moon in the Moon?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?