Accusation: Google uses spam protection to eliminate unwanted competition

Violent allegations against Google: The group is said to be deliberately trying to turn off third-party developers with its latest calendar updates. These allegations come from Mike Adams, CEO of Grain. Appointments booked via external tools no longer appear automatically in the workspace suite. So anyone who uses such software for their customers will soon have to switch to Google itself – so the suspicion.

But what about the allegations? In fact, Google has been blocking incoming appointments for a long time if they do not come from a sender that the user explicitly trusts. This is done to protect against spam – because in times of ever better functioning filters for e-mails, criminals are increasingly resorting to the long-term intentional Gmail vulnerability for calendar invitations. And invitations to Viagra meetings are not only annoying, they can also quickly lure unwary users to a phishing site if they click wrongly.

However, Google is now taking a more aggressive approach: instead of just opting in, users are increasingly being treated to active protection by default. So if you have relied on automatic entries regardless of the actual provider of the booking software, you can quickly lose sight of it. At the same time, the group now offers its calendar as a commercial part of the workspace suite, for example as a reservation system for the self-employed.

So it’s the combination of the default opt-in for spam protection and the monetization of the calendar tool that is behind the allegations by Mike Adams stand. His company Grain offers AI-supported meeting recordings and transcripts, but uses the online scheduling software Calendly for this. According to Adams, the fact that this is blocked in many cases causes chaos in the company and among users.

On the other hand, Google itself states to The Register that it also blocks unknown Gmail contacts by default – and thus third-party providers as well as Google’s own service are excluded from users’ calendars. It is also clear that users on social media complain about missed appointments. However, details on the appointment booking tools used in the background are missing.

So whether Google deliberately wants to eliminate all of the competition via a spam filter that is strictly configured in advance is an open question. However, users had to endure the real flood of spam in the calendar several years ago – and in 2019 Google announced that it was working on the problem. As early as the end of 2022, voices were increasing that the calendar was no longer showing the wrong dates or no dates at all.

From the user’s point of view, settings that have to be made manually are now necessary if you want to continue to rely on automatically entered appointments. For example, Calendly, as the affected third-party developer, has set up a support page that explains the relevant steps. Known contacts and their appointments can then be added to the safe list with just a few clicks.

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