Mysterious Gmail bug puts skull and crossbones in your inbox


A mysterious Gmail bug is putting a skull and crossbones emoji inside users’ inboxes. Hovering over the icon displays creepy messages like “Component Spy,” “Chat Spy,” and “Data Spy” — but it’s actually totally harmless, and Google is already working to fix it.

The bug affects a specific set of user accounts, and can be seen in Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge, according to a Gmail Help Forum thread. It’s still present, but despite the worrying icon and even scarier messages, it’s nothing to worry about.

“I want to first confirm that this issue is purely cosmetic and should not affect normal Gmail functionality,” writes Googler Andy B. “The team is aware of it and working on implementing a fix as soon as possible.”

It turns out the root cause of the problem is a bug in Gmail’s debugger, which is supposed to highlight other bugs in Google’s code. If you see it, then, you can just ignore it; it’s not malicious malware, or hackers spying on you, or a sign you’re about to get a visit from the Grim Reaper.