Path messaging app accidentally sends SMS messages to entire phonebook, tells contacts you have photos for them

Path banner

An extremely popular messaging app, Path, has recently undergone a complete overhaul, transitioning from a kind of social network, to more of a private messaging platform similar to Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. The Path app for Android was updated today in the Play Store, bringing about the usual “performance improvements” and “bugfixes.” Let’s hope they managed to squash that bug where Path would send spammy SMS messages to your entire contact list at all hours of the night — yeah, that one.

Word began spreading a few days ago after Path seemingly wigged out on a few users, sending mass SMS messages to everyone in their phone book — ex girlfriends, tire shops, grandmas, etc. — notifying them that the sender had “photos” for them waiting on Path. Not the kind of thing you would want sent to your buddy’s wife on a Friday night.

Path SMS Android

How could something like this even happen? Many times an app will ask if you want to invite others to use the same app, so that they could join in on the fun. Path does the same thing (as illustrated below), letting you select users in your phone book to contact, and how you want to contact them (via email or SMS). You’ll notice there is no option to select your entire phonebook, instead letting you pick them out one-by-one. However, there is the option to spam invite all your Facebook friends in one fell swoop.

Apparently, some wires got crossed over at Path HQ, causing Path to message everyone in a user’s phonebook– not just those the user selected at sign up. Probably the worst part is the onslaught of spam continued even after the app was uninstalled. Very uncool. Path is pretty upfront about the permissions their app requires, one of which is full access to “read your contacts and call log,” and where some would argue anyone installing an app asking for those permissions had it coming — no. This is a permission many apps ask for, yes, even Whatsapp.

Path for Android Invite Friends

This actually isn’t the first time Path has landed themselves in hot water. Back in February, they settled with the FTC for $800,000 after it was discovered they had been collecting user’s contact information without consent. There’s no question their app is beautiful and where I, myself will continue using it, Path has already left a bad taste in mouth of many prospective downloaders.

[via Branded3Path on Google Play]

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TAGS: Path

  • veccster

    Ironically, my Outlook just sent a spam message out to everyone I have ever sent a message to with a spam link (blank email with just a link). I got a dozen quick responses telling me about it. It’s obvious spam but a text spam is much worse.

    There are several people in my contact book who are only there so I know NOT to answer the phone if they called.

    • Go Hawkeyes

      Sounds like you have a virus.

  • JulianZHuang

    i dont get it. why people keep switching msg app. there are imsg, fb msg, whatsapp, wechat, line, and sooo many more.

    • Chris Chavez

      Path is by far the prettiest. I think that’s what attracted me. Gorgeous UI.

      • JulianZHuang

        the main problem will be how to get everyone i know to use one msg app.

        • Chris Chavez

          I know. It really sucks. I try to invite my friends but it never really works out. That’s probably the one reason I’m forced to stick with Facebook Messenger :/


        • Go Hawkeyes

          That’s why I just stick to standard text messaging.

  • Christopher St. John

    I got one of those messages on March 27. I just assumed it was a phishing message.

    • ninjustin

      It does sound exactly like a message that I get when one of my friends on Twitter that never uses twitter gets hacked.

  • Covert_Death

    all these messaging apps are just a fad, i’ll stick with phone calls, sms/mms, and email to stay in contact with others. everything else makes no sense

  • faceless128

    doesn’t sound accidental.

  • np6s4x

    i like android and all, and use it as my phone, but the one thing i HATE is not being able to choose which permissions to allow (next part might be apples vs oranges but oh well) atleast for example in windows you can choose when an app is running, and disable it’s ability to ‘run at startup’ among other things. in android you have little control except to force quit everything after boot, and hope it doesn’t startup again on it’s own

    • OptimusL

      Never thought I’d see android and ‘little control’ in the same sentence.

      • np6s4x

        though true, while we have control over the other 99.9%, except for certain roms, we don’t seem to have much choice

    • rick slick

      agreed. On the iPhone ironically you can limit access to contacts / photos / location / notifications easily for these types of apps. That’s how Android should be as well.

  • Maximillion82

    wow that’s a pretty annoying bug or actually spam/malware. glad I do not use the app

  • fronn

    There’s nothing accidental about it. This is fully intentional by Path. The only thing they think they did wrong was send out the spam message after the user uninstalled the app.

    Path behaves even worse if you choose to check your phone contacts, as it will send out an email to every one of them without even letting you filter through which contacts (the button and wording makes it seem like it will give you a list of users you would like to friend or invite, but it skips that step and just emails every one of them after you select the phone contacts option).

    Path is a shitty company who built a beautiful looking app. It’s clearly run by and made by people who don’t respect their users whatsoever (as a developer I can’t imagine implementing that feature).