Google's solution to fight Google Drive Sharing Spam is inadequate

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 26, 2021

Google announced a new block user feature for its Google Drive file hosting and synchronization service Google Drive last week that prevents others from sharing files and folders with you.

Up until now, everyone with a Google account could share content with everyone else, provided that they have that user's email address. By default, new shares are announced via notifications or emails. The new share is shown when you click on the shared section of Google Drive as well, and it was stuck there up until now.

The shared files are not downloaded immediately or added to a user's Google Drive, but the files are listed, even if unwanted.

Sharing is a useful feature, as it enables users and teams to share files with others. You could use a shared folder to work on an Excel spreadsheet together, or a book, or share holiday photos with other family members or friends.

Spammers have abused the share system for a long time. All it took was to get hold of a user's Google email address. Content could then be shared and since there was no way to remove yourself from shared content, you were stuck with the content.

Up until now, Google Drive did not support blocking users from sharing content with you. Google started the rollout of a new user blocking feature last week. The full rollout may take up to 15 days starting on July 22, 2021.

The new feature is available to all personal Google account customers, Google Workspace customers, and G Suite Basic and Business customers.

The following happens when you block a user on Google Drive:

  • The user can't share files anymore with you.
  • You can't access any shared files anymore by that user.
  • You can't share files with the user anymore.
  • The user can't access any files you shared.

How to block users on Google Drive

google drive block user email

  1. Open the Shared with me section on Google Drive's website, or load directly.
  2. Right-click on a file and select "block email" from the context menu.
  3. In the prompt that opens, select the block option.

You can also unblock users on Google Drive in the following way:

  1. Select your profile picture on Google Drive and then Manage your Google Account.
  2. Go to People & sharing > Blocked.
  3. A list of blocked people opens. Select the X-icon next to the user that you want to unblock.

Blocking users is not enough

You can use the new blocking feature only after files have been shared with you. While that may work in some cases, it is an inadequate solution as it means that Google Drive users will have to do all the heavy lifting.

While you can report spam to Google, nothing is keeping spammers from creating new email addresses and using these to share the same files or others with you again.

Google should consider adding an option to disallow all shares by default, or to display a prompt to the user when a user attempts to share files for the first time.

The ability to block is an important option nevertheless, as it introduces options to do something against unwanted shares.

Now You: have you received Google Drive spam in the past?

Google's solution to fight Google Drive Sharing Spam is inadequate
Article Name
Google's solution to fight Google Drive Sharing Spam is inadequate
Google Drive users may block others from sharing files or folders with them; here is how that is done and why it is inadequate as a way to combat sharing spam.
Ghacks Technology News

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  1. Anonymous said on March 24, 2022 at 3:47 pm

    I get notifications all the time for unsolicited shares, yet nothing appears in the Shared With Me section so there is no-one to block. How do I stop this?

    1. Anonymous said on March 30, 2022 at 7:26 pm

      I also experience this, many shared files push notifications on my phone, then the file is not there when I click on it and it is not in my shared files on desktop either. Closest help topic I could find was this, and it’s unresolved.

  2. Anonymous said on July 28, 2021 at 3:11 am

    Google also has a problem with Calendar spam.
    Disable auto-invites to combat Google Calendar Spam

  3. kalmly said on July 27, 2021 at 8:25 pm

    It loads in Brave and Pale Moon, but comments don’t work. I agree with Mavoy about the new look. I hate looking at boldly ugly sht in the mornings.

  4. Taomyn said on July 27, 2021 at 10:47 am

    Google really needs to up their game and provide real blocking i.e. if I block an email address in GMail it actually blocks it from ever entering their mail server, not continue to divert it to the spam folder. They would say this might be inconvenient for users that accidentally block valid addresses, but it’s beyond that now and they really need to make it an option.

    Block means block, not divert as that only flags the address as still viable, and even better allow me to block individual plus-address formats which have become compromised e.g. [email protected]

  5. Anonymous said on July 27, 2021 at 6:53 am
    Reply doesn’t work anymore?

    1. kalmly said on July 27, 2021 at 7:43 pm

      It loads in Brave and Pale Moon, but comments don’t work. I agree with Mavoy about the new look. I hate looking at boldly ugly sht in the mornings.

    2. kalmly said on July 27, 2021 at 7:40 pm

      It’s loading very slowly with Pale Moon and Brave, but having troubles commenting. This is my third try.

    3. kalmly said on July 27, 2021 at 7:35 pm

      Working for me with Pale Moon and Brave, but it takes a good while for it to load.

    4. Mavoy said on July 27, 2021 at 11:53 am

      Oh no isn’t working for me either. It was fun while it lasted. The new look is shit.

      1. Anonymous said on July 28, 2021 at 5:35 am

        How do we get the old look back?

  6. Nutrynion said on July 27, 2021 at 12:33 am

    It would make sense to just integrate Google contacts into the share option and then allow shares only from users in your contacts list and or contacts in a specific group. So for work, create a contact list with just work contacts and then allow shares from that group. Duh. All the schooling and education behind the scenes at Google and still people are dumb.

  7. ULBoom said on July 26, 2021 at 7:45 pm

    That this is even possible is beyond insane. Also the reason I ditched Facebook a month after signing up. One day, the tiny little page I made to share dog stories was overloaded with trash, trash people I never wanted to see again and hadn’t for years.

    Google tacitly encouraging by ignoring gmail spam is one thing with free gmail but turning drive into yet another scum magnet should be enough to never use it.

    Schools give chromebooks, slow, primitive notebooks with lousy displays to school kids who can’t do much of anything with them without google drive, a place their schoolwork is buried in spam. Really? We accept this stuff? The brainwashing is complete, phone culture has permanently changed our brains.

    I’m marketing a prosthetic forearm that can be strapped to your rib cage with a hand designed to clutch that so important rectangular lobe at just the right angle. It features a mind activated dexterous finger for swiping away all those !!!node-uf-fuh-cay-shuns!!! we hate but can’t ignore. Guaranteed for one million swipes or one month, whichever comes first.

    We’re paranoid about oppressive political forces while ignoring how terrified and childish so called Tech has made us, leaving us wide open to attack from all angles.


  8. Coriy said on July 26, 2021 at 5:40 pm

    I’ve never had an unknown person “share” files with me. Then again, I rarely use my personal Google Drive. So rarely that recently I removed the few bits of content that I had there. And deleted connections to content of others.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 26, 2021 at 6:33 pm

      If you take good care of your email address and have some luck, then you may never encounter share spam on Drive.

      1. Coriy said on July 27, 2021 at 2:33 pm

        Thank you, Martin. I try to avoid using my Google log-in on other websites. I either refuse to log-in or, very rarely, I will create an account specifically for that site.

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