Warning for all G-Mail users who use the RSS feed feature via Bloglines.
I just got a bit of a shock when I checked a search feed at Bloglines to find a headline that looked very familiar. In fact it was familiar because I’d written it myself.
This might not be too unusual really – I often see my blog posts in Bloglines – the difference here was that this was not the headline of a post I’d written – rather it was the headline of an email I’d sent – my ProBlogger Newsletter (click screen cap for enlargement).
I thought this was a rather odd thing – an email that I’d sent to a select few people (those who have signed up for my weekly recap of blogging here at ProBlogger) came up in a bloglines search result – for all to see. How could this be so?
At first I thought that one of my subscribers had republished my email on their blog.
But further investigation revealed that the ‘source blog’ was a G-Mail Inbox for one of my readers.
I’d heard that Google’s G-Mail allowed users to follow their email via RSS – but didn’t realize that this made the subject line and first line of the email accessible by the public if that user checks their email via RSS at Bloglines.
This is a little worrying – every time I send an email to a G-Mail account now I’ll be looking at my subject and first line slightly differently because it could just be read by any Bloglines user who happens to have a search feed for any of the words you use.
So – the take home lesson here is twofold:
Firstly for G-Mail users – don’t use Bloglines to check your G-Mail RSS feeds – once you add it to your list of feeds to check it becomes checkable not only by you but potentially by anyone. Once someone discovers your RSS feed on Bloglines they have access to every email you get via G-Mail (or at least the first line of it). This could be VERY damaging to you – depending upon the type of email that you get.
Secondly for those sending email to G-Mail accounts – be careful what you write in your subject and first line – especially if it uses the word ‘ProBlogger’ – because that is one of my search feeds on Bloglines!
Update: I’ll add to this post that I’m not completely familiar with G-Mail’s RSS feed capabilities and perhaps I haven’t reported this technically correct – it could be that the G-Mail feeds (I’ve seen three now) that I’ve seen are not being used by their users correctly – but the fact remains that I’m seeing people’s G-Mail inboxes in Bloglines – and this should be ringing warnings bells in many people’s ears right now.
Update: Others (who know more about this) have followed this story up at:
Update II – I’m not the first person to notice this – Randy postsback in November.