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Did Google accidentally send your private videos to a stranger?

Google exported a number of private videos to strangers’ archives in a Google Photos privacy breach last November, the company has revealed.

Google Photos users are receiving alerts that a technical issue a few months back could have resulted in the loss of their videos – and their privacy.

The breach took place between November 21 and November 25 on a Google service called Takeout (or Takeaway, here in the UK). The tool allows users to back up zip files of data from Google programmes to their computers or to another service outside of Google.

Unfortunately, for a number of Google Photos users, some videos may have gotten muddled up in the process.

Related: Google Photos: how to back up and organise your photos

Unbeknownst to these users, one or more personal videos may have ended up on the computer of a stranger also exporting his or her data at that time.

Google also warned that the data that was successfully downloaded to users’ devices “may be incomplete” and “may contain videos that are not yours”.

Google neglected to notify users of which videos might have been affected, leaving victims to trawl through the archives, checking for missing content themselves.

Though, according to 9to5Google, less than 0.01% of Google Photos users backing up their pics with Takeout were affected, the breach could still have a huge impact on the those who were. The photo storage service hit one billion monthly users in July and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

No other Google services were affected in Takeout and the issue with Google Photos has since been resolved.

To find out if you have been affected, check your inbox to see if Google has copied you into a slightly belated apology.

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If you were hit by the breach, Google recommends you get rid of any exports from this period and back up your photos again now that the issue has been resolved – presumably without peaking at anyone else’s videos before you hit delete.

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