Google restores services after multiple users face outage

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Google has managed to gain control over its services, after a large number of users were impacted by an outage on Monday. Sites that were affected by the down time included the search engine itself, as well as subsidiary parts of the Alphabet business, such as streaming and emails.

For people who were looking to use either youTube or Gmail, as well as the main search engine, and found that it wasn’t available recently, this outage could be the explanation why.

Downdetector, the site that monitors websites’ down time, noted that over a thousand users were experiencing trouble with the Google ecosystem, across the search engine, email, youTube, and Google drive.

The main location that experienced the difficulties was North America. The reports from here highlight that the primary issue was around logging into user accounts.

As of Tuesday, this breakout of issues appears to have been fixed, with Downdetector reporting only issues numbering within single digits being detected within the user base. However the cause of the problem has not yet become clear. 

What else is new at Google?

Employees to return to California Headquarters 

The California headquarters of Google will allow staff to return to the office in July. Alongside this, it is speculated that they won’t need to wear a mask if they have been vaccinated. In a memo first reported by Business Insider, chief financial officer at Google, Ruth Porat wrote,

‘I know it has been a long 15 months for many of us. In California, we are fortunate that there is light at the end of the tunnel [...] we are opening up voluntary access to our California offices.’ Porat continues by saying, ‘While things may look and feel a bit different for a while, the core of what makes being together in the office so special- the people, the serendipity, the innovation - will still very much be present,'

So it appears that Google will not be forcing their employees to return initially, they can voluntarily come back to the office if they want. For the people working in San Francisco, this can be from July 12 and for the people working in Southern California, they have the option to start on July 13. However, from September, Google will be requiring employees to return to the office, 20% of the workforce will be permitted to work from home permanently.

The decision to bring employees back into the headquarters comes amongst an improved situation in California against the COVID pandemic. Alongside this, the buildings have been fitted with air flow systems to help combat spread of pathogens. This is as well as improving the processes of cleaning crews. Furthermore, there is a company new vaccine navigation hotline, which will help employees that would like a vaccine to get one.

Google issues incorrect advice to Britons over Covid-19 rules

The ‘common questions’ feature of the Google search engine has been giving contradictory information to the NHS with regard to self-isolating. According to Google, the fix is now being made to resolve the issue.

Within the ‘common questions’ section of the search engine, users were given information that said they can stop isolating in some situations, which is the opposite of the NHS guidance that Britons have been issued.

The ‘common questions’ section of the website is a section that provides quick answers to user’s questions, which is easily accessible. The case, which has now been flagged by the government, is the answer to ‘can I stop self-isolating if I test negative for Covid-19?’ To which google provides an answer from a part of the website which is about a slightly different subject, ‘If your test is negative, you will no longer be required to self-isolate'. However, the current rules in the UK are that even if you have a negative test, you are still required to isolate for 10 days from the date you were exposed to Covid.

On this particular situation a Google spokesperson said these answers are generated by algorithms. They continued by writing, ‘these snippets can still be missing important context, or only be relevant to part of the user’s question [...] we regularly review all of the question/snippet pairs we show in this feature to ensure that they are not outdated or missing any critical context.’

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