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Google+ disk space cockup creates notification spam-storm

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Google+ blitzed early adopters of the social networking service with spammy notifications over the weekend following a technical glitch. The Chocolate Factory said the problem was due to the service having run out of disk space.

The spam messages carried some of the hallmarks of those generated by dodgy apps of the type that have become a regular nuisance on Facebook over recent months. In reality, however, the messages were the product of bugs in the Google+ code, which had kicked in because the site was unable to cope with early demand.

Vic Gundotra, senior vice-president of social for Google, apologised for the snafu in a status message on his Google+ account.

Please accept our apologies for the spam we caused this afternoon.

For about 80 minutes we ran out of disk space on the service that keeps track of notifications. Hence our system continued to try sending notifications. Over, and over again. Yikes.

We didn't expect to hit these high thresholds so quickly, but we should have.

Thank you for helping us during this field trial, and once again, we are very sorry for the spam.

Google+ is, of course, only a few days old – a newborn in the world of social networking – so problems of one type or another can be expected. Even so, and given its capacity to run its own massive data centres for core operations such as ad brokerage, you wouldn't expect Google to run into problems such as running out of disk space for anything.

More commentary on the episode can be found in a blog post by net security firm Sophos here. ®

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