GMail Reads My Mind, Filters Important Messages To Trash
November 8, 2014 9:10 AM   Subscribe

I love me some Gmail, so I'm kind of peeved with its most recent shenanigans. I rarely check my Trash, but out of curiosity I did this week and found a lot of messages that should not have been in the Trash.

Here are the facts of the case:

1) The message in Trash were tagged as Social, Promotions, Forums and Updates. This leads me to believe that GMail is using whatever algorithm to decide which messages belong to which tag.
2) I don't have the Tabs across the top; I have the old fashioned Primary email Inbox.
3) I don't have any filters. Amazing but true.
4) I briefly experimented with the tabs across the top, hoping that Gmail would start shuffling everything into those silos, but no - straight to trash.
5) I tried moving the messages from trash to Inbox (with the right click) and they did move there, but moved back to Trash immediately after refreshing.
6) I'm using the web based email client.

Something OR SOMEONE is forcing these messages into my Trash.
How do I get Gmail to start sending those into my Inbox?
Individual filters?

Thanks for your help, I appreciate it!
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Could these have been spam messages? Check the dates on the message headers, as Gmail moves spam messages to Trash automatically after 30 days. So they would never show up in your inbox.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:21 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Go into your settings and make sure there isn't any filter set up. Also, make sure no one else has access to your Gmail account. The most likely scenario is that you accidentally deleted them, or they were considered spam.

What I don't understand is why they'd have labels if you are using a traditional primary inbox. I wonder if when you went to get rid of those categories to move back to a primary inbox, you deleted them somehow. How did you get rid of the category tabs? All you really needed to do was uncheck the box in the options and the tabs disappear and you're left with one inbox. I'm wondering if you did something else.

Anyway, things to check, just in case:

Check your settings to make sure you have no filters, and check the settings to make sure the email isn't forwarding anywhere, isn't set up to be accessed through other inboxes, and isn't set up to work through another client (like POP/IMAP). Those settings will appear both in your gmail "settings" section -- when logged in, just go here:

Other important stuff to check is in your account settings, which will be here: There, you should see if any services/apps are connected to it and turn those off ("account permissions") unless they are legitimate. There, you can also see a log of who is accessing your account. If anyone unfamiliar is, end their session.

If you go through all that and there's nothing there, I'd say it's likely a "user error" situation and you accidentally deleted stuff.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:41 AM on November 8, 2014

Response by poster: Hey Marie! I've been watching this for a few days and even fresh toasty messages are heading directly to Trash. I check my Spam folder pretty regularly. It never occurred to me that anything but the messages I'd deleted would be in the Trash, but there you go.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 10:05 AM on November 8, 2014

Check for forwarders and if you never use anything but the web client (no apple mail on your iPhone, for example), then turn off IMAP access.

This is almost certainly not a thing google is doing.
posted by toomuchpete at 10:15 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just to add: even if you haven't, yourself, created any forwarders or filters, please double check them in the settings. This is a common thing to have created if someone hijacks the account.
posted by toomuchpete at 10:15 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

It sounds like someone might be accessing your account and deleting your emails. Do you always log out of Gmail on public and work computers, and avoid saving your password on those computers?

Scroll down to the bottom of your Inbox. On the right hand side in small print, at least on mine, is something that says "Last activity". If you click for 'Details', it'll show you the IP addresses that have logged into your Gmail recently, and whether there are sessions open on any other computer. You can also tick for an alert about unusual activity.
posted by JeanDupont at 11:53 AM on November 8, 2014

Response by poster: Alrighty then!
I'm still not willing to admit PEBKAC, but I have double checked everything, shut down everything, deleted everything and reset everything.
I'm 99% sure I haven't been hacked or hijacked, but I'll be watching it with great interest over the next day or two, just to see what happens.
Thank you again to everyone who answered, I appreciate it.
Y'all = awesome.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 11:55 AM on November 8, 2014

JKTB: I try to remember to check Trash routinely since gmail frequently misdirects emails there. These are emails from people that I correspond with frequently, and are in my Contacts list. You have done nothing wrong, and neither have I.
posted by Cranberry at 12:04 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you access gmail from multiple devices? Activity on one device will affect all others. A google checklist to a query similar to this is answered here.
posted by epo at 12:35 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I knew someone who had a similar problem. He was accessing his Gmail both through the standard web interface and through Outlook (using IMAP). He had somehow created some rules in Outlook that were causing legitimate messages to be moved into the trash. Anything trashed in Outlook would also appear as trashed in the web interface.
posted by alex1965 at 12:35 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Are you using the Gmail app on any phones? I find it easy to swipe messages straight into the trash on the phone, and you could even be doing it in your pocket.
posted by ambrosen at 2:03 PM on November 8, 2014

It's probably not directly relevant to your problem, but why not change your password?

It's a good idea to change them periodically anyway and you'll be able to dismiss the fear that someone else is performing operations on your inbox without your knowledge, allowing you to concentrate on other potential causes.
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:22 PM on November 8, 2014

That's a good point about checking out your phone Gmail app or other devices for their settings. I don't believe you can set filters on a phone, but maybe if you're accessing through another computer or tablet or email client, you set up filtering by accident. I believe you swipe to archive, not delete in the phone app, but make sure you're not accidentally deleting them somehow there.

I still don't understand the labels thing though, which is why I still think this was just an accident OP made when setting up his inbox preferences somehow. Good luck!

It's a good idea to change them periodically anyway and you'll be able to dismiss the fear that someone else is performing operations on your inbox without your knowledge, allowing you to concentrate on other potential causes.

Or you can just check the activity log to see if anyone other than you has accessed your account so you can avoid changing your password unnecessarily. Or, you can just set up two-step verification so you'll be notified if a device other than your usual computer tries to log in.
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:13 PM on November 8, 2014

2-step verification is the way to go. You can set it up so that the 2nd step is only invoked when accessing from a new device so that you only do that rarely.
posted by epo at 1:41 AM on November 9, 2014

Best answer: It's infuriating. It's been happening to me, also. I'm like "wtf?" Thing that were in my inbox, and I've read them, or maybe not read them, and then they are just *gone.* Gone where? They're gone into the trash, or the recycle bin, they're gone places I didn't move them.

What really bothers me is how many have gotten past me. Who. knows? Not I. And sometimes it's shoved into spam folder, and sometimes into trash, and no you're not dreaming this up, or if you dreaming it up then so am I.

And I'm not dreaming it up.

I'm woven tightly into the whole gmail routine, a droid phone, and I use Google voice A LOT, I use their calendar app also, and way too often I use their search, which is just scary good; I want to use Startpage search, and that is my default, but like as not there are not the hits I need, damn sure not without some digging, rooting around; I punch up the same search terms on google and find exactly what I'm looking for, and find it FAST.

Microsoft has made some really nice changes in the past couple of years, their whole Outlook presence online is pretty nice. What was ugly and cluttered is now clean and even pretty, now it's gmail that's ugly, or maybe I'd think any service was ugly if it started acting out the way google has been recently.

Might be time to leave with google what needs to be with google but step into MS for other needs, split up the party; like, if you're dating only this one woman you've *got* to put up with her jive, date two and you can split the suffering, maybe even lighten it some, do the cafeteria thing, pick and choose, main course over here, dessert tray over there, etc and etc.

You're not dreaming this up. Me, too.
posted by dancestoblue at 4:13 AM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

With the greatest respect permit me to remain sceptical. Many years of diagnosing IT problems have revealed one infallible alarm signal. When the user says "but I haven't done anything", they always mean "... which I regard as significant (or am prepared to admit to)".

Gmail has millions of users, if it really was spontaneously filing stuff into trash I'd expected there to be a massive uproar because *lots* of people would be affected. Unexpected stuff going into spam can usually be avoided by placing the sender in your address book, unless you have people who do send you mail which actually looks like spam.

The easiest way to pin this down is to change the password on the account, and then on the machine on which the password was changed check for rules especially forwarding or deletion rules and any other mailbox properties which alter the mailbox, on iOS for instance it is possible to set the archive folder as trash so that archiving something actually deletes it. Also check the access log to see if any unexpected activity is shown, also for maximum security, enable 2 factor authentication.

All other devices should stop working because the password is now different, on each of those after changing the password also check for rules etc which alter the inbox. By the time you have checked each device you should have ensured that your mail is not being tampered with by your own settings. Note especially that if your device has multiple programs which use gmail (my iPhone has at least 3), each app must be checked, the password change forces this to happen.
posted by epo at 8:38 AM on November 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Just want to chime in that you are not crazy, and that this has absolutely happened to me. For some reason, only emails from my best friend, and all emails from said friend, are filtered directly into trash. I have triple-checked all my filters and permissions, and am totally unable to figure out why this is happening. It is infuriating but you are not alone!
posted by LeeLanded at 11:38 AM on November 9, 2014

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