There's Something Wrong With Gmail Images

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Jan. 31 2014 5:24 PM

There's Something Wrong With Gmail Images

gmail
Some images in an email from Yelp load, but others have broken links.

Screencap by Doug Harris of Gmail.

Have you noticed that some images in your Gmail messages aren't loading? Because Slate's chief software architect, Doug Harris, has. And when he pointed it out to me, I started seeing it, too.

In mid-December, the Gmail team announced that it was going to be automatically displaying all of the images in emails instead of first asking users whether they wanted the images to appear. The old system had been created to give users a choice—if something malicious lurked in an attachment, it wouldn't compromise the computer's security as soon as the email was opened.

Advertisement

But Google decided to instead put all images through an intermediate server and run malware checks on everything before displaying a proxy version of the original image on-screen. "You’ll soon see all images displayed in your messages automatically across desktop, iOS and Android," Gmail product manager John Rae-Grant wrote in a blog post announcing the change. "Gmail will now serve all images through Google’s own secure proxy servers."

Some people worried that this gave Google even more access to their data, and Google was quick to release a guide for turning the feature on and off. But it seems like there's another problem, too. Every broken image I find in my email links to a URL that includes "googleusercontent.com/proxy/," like this one below.

gmail3
At least this is reminding me to pay my electric bill.

Screencap by Lily Hay Newman of Gmail.

The problem, which seems to have started or at least become noticeable around Tuesday, has been cropping up on sites like Emailblog.eu and EDMdesigner, as well as on Twitter, where people are getting increasingly, ahem, vocal.

I reached out to Google, but no one has gotten back to me yet. Even though it's not as bad as Gmail being down, we all know how these things go. The tenor of the complaining is going to get increasingly vitriolic until the Gmail team finds a fix.

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

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.