A Spam Deluge Is Crippling Google Home For Some Users

Google Home

Several years ago, spammers figured out they could fill up a user's Google Calendar with advertisements and other unwanted messages by sending them out as event invites. The issue has largely flown under the radar, but unfortunately for some Google Home owners, the exploit (if you want to call it that) is preventing them from receiving legitimate notifications over their smart speaker, turning what was a nuisance into a major problem.

We were alerted about the issue from Micah Stroud, a former NVIDIA employee who sent us an email detailing his frustration with the situation.

"For the past three months I've been living with an out of control spammer in my house: it comes from Google Home. According to Google Support, thus far they can't find the culprit and can't stop it. And it's getting worse. When it started back in October 2017, it was no more than an ad or two a week. But, steadily, some nefarious source on the internet has been adding more and more spammy content to my Google Home. It has now reached the point that it's impossible to use Home for any regular event or Calendar items, because when you ask it 'tell me about my day' it comes back with dozens of spam entries," Stroud said.

Here is a look at Stroud's list of appointments, cluttered with spam:

Google Appointments
Click to Enlarge

Stroud is not alone, though users affected by this may feel that way because of the lack of attention the issue has received, with no resolution in sight. Over at Reddit, there is a small thread on the matter with a few other users complaining of the same issue. We suspect there are a lot more out there who are affected, and who have simply stopped relying on Google Home to read back appointments.

As of right now, the only real workaround is to configured Google Calendar to stop automatically adding events, which will stop them from landing in Gmail. To do that, navigate to Google Calendar, click the gear icon in the upper-right corner, and select Settings. Under the Event settings section, you will see a pull-down menu labeled Automatically add invitations. There are three options:
  • Yes
  • Yes, but don't send event notifications unless I have responded "Yes" or "Maybe"
  • No, only show invitations to which I have responded
Selecting the No option will stop the influx of event invites, though the downside is that you will have to sift through them and respond to the legitimate ones. It's not ideal, but for those affected by this, it's perhaps better than having Google Assistant read through a bunch of spam.