The Google News app has been secretly burning through hundreds of dollars worth of users’ mobile data.
It isn’t clear what’s gone wrong with the app, but the issue has understandably caused anger amongst affected users, who’ve been forced to negotiate with their mobile carriers, in order to get a refund.
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The problem was first flagged up on the Google News Help Forum on September 1 (via ZDNet).
“Have a problem this morning where I woke up and Google News used 7.65GB of background data overnight,” wrote a user called Jordan.
“I was connected to wifi but the signal was weak so its [sic] possible it was connecting/disconnecting. Even still…have no idea how google news would have a way to use that much in such a short time unless there was a problem.”
Lisa Wang, a Google News community manager, acknowledged the issue on September 27. “Thanks so much for reporting this issue to us–we understand the importance of getting it resolved as soon as possible,” she wrote.
“The relevant teams are currently investigating and working towards a fix, and we’ll be posting updates directly to this thread. We may also reach out if there is additional troubleshooting info that would be helpful in our investigation.”
Unfortunately, that’s the last we’ve heard from Google regarding this problem.
It isn’t clear how widespread the problem is, but users in the UK and US appear to be affected. It’s definitely worth checking your mobile data usage just to be on the safe side.
“Just had my O2 UK bill with £172.45 of excess data charges,” wrote a user called Barrie W Smith. “Spoke to them today and they are refunding the charge But they will only do this once. So I will need to keep the NEWS fully disabled on all phones until this bug is fixed. I have told O2 all about the discussion on this forum.”
Another user, called Sunny Stueve, wrote: “Both my husband and I had this issue on our Pixel 2s, but to the tune of 24GB EACH overnight! I was on Fi, luckily, so my bill capped at $60 (I enjoyed slow data for a week, though, and google said they could do nothing about that??) My husband’s bill just came in at $385 from Verizon.
“How is Google compensating its users? After an hour with Google tech support (who made me feel like I was the one to blame) I deleted the news app that day and am now enjoying SmartNews. Very poor handling of this situation, Google.”
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In the meantime, you might want to either switch off background data usage for the Google News app (Settings > Apps and notifications > Data usage > Allow background data usage) or get rid of the app altogether.
Have you been affected by the bug? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews.