A notification pops up on your phone: “Click here for hot XXX action!”
It’s Google Drive again. Someone shared a document containing that title, and now your phone is begging you to look at it. Even if you ban Google Drive from generating phone notifications, you’ll still get emails. If you block the emails, you’ll have to see the spam when you click on the “shared” section of Google Drive. The problem is that Drive document sharing was built with no spam-management tools. Anyone who gets a hold of your email is considered an important sharer of valid documents, and there has been nothing you can do about it—until now.
Google officially acknowledged the problem back in 2019, and the company said it was making spam controls “a priority.” Now, more than two years later, Google is finally rolling out the most basic of spam tools to Google Drive sharing—you can block individual email addresses! The company announced this feature in May, but the tool is rolling out to users over the next 15 days. Soon, once the spam arrives in your Google Drive, you’ll be able to click the menu button next to the item and choose “block user.”
Drive sharing works just like email spam. Anyone can share a drive file with you if they know your address. Documents that have been shared with you still automatically show up in your Drive collection without your consent. There’s no way to turn off sharing, to limit sharing to approved users, or to limit it to existing contacts. It’s a free-for-all.
It’s like email, but while Gmail has plenty of spam controls, Drive has historically had very few. Gmail gets AI-powered, Google-side filters for obvious scams, a “spam” inbox for questionable items, and advanced filter rules that anyone can write. For years, Drive has been an uncontrolled mess of spam for some users, and the only solution has been to use the entire service less and block it from sending emails and notifications.
With the new feature, blocking a user will prevent them from sharing content with you, remove all shares between you and the blocked person, and block them across several other Google services. The ability to block individual email addresses is a start, but obviously, any spammer can just create a new account and quickly circumvent this fix. Since Google made Drive sharing security work just like email, it doesn’t seem like anything short of comprehensive email-style controls (or a sharing allow list) is going to fix the issue.
As with regular email spam, some people get tons of it and some get very little, depending on who has your email address. For people who have been hit by Google Drive spammers, it has been very frustrating to have almost no way to stop it. This feature will give at least some control.