Google: my Gmail is not just an e-mail
I remember as if it was today. I received an invitation to have access to one of the services which possibly would be the most important and complete e-mail platform in the world: Gmail.
The important 1Gb of e-mail storage was the big hit. Back then, 1Gb was a great deal of space and really caught the attention of many people, including myself.
I accepted the invite and started using it. It was the year of 2004, more precisely, on April 1st that Google launched its e-mail service. I’m not sure how long after that the invites were released and when I started using it, but I know it was in the very beginning.
17 years? That must be about that
The years went by, and new Google services came along and I joined them. My e-mail in the platform became the main communication channel with my friends, relatives and even business contacts. Later on, came the calendar, contacts, notes, app login, etc. Everything All being slowly tied to my Google account.
What Google services do I use today?
Everything may be an exaggeration, but 98% of my digital life is associated with Google services. Gmail is undoubtedly the main channel. You know when you sign up for a website and it asks for your email address? Yeah, firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve opened a new bank account. What’s your e-mail address? email@example.com
I subscribed to a stream service: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where do you want to receive the projects of your new house? email@example.com
I bought a software license, where the serial number goes: Daaaa, firstname.lastname@example.org
Yes, you link your life to a service, and in this case, it is 17 years of history. I can’t count how many thousands of internet services have my e-mail registered.
Why am I telling all this?
To tell you how insignificant Google may consider you and how big a problem it may cause you if they decide to disable the account.
I bought a new Android smartphone this May 2021. I always use two devices, an iPhone as a personal device and an Android for business. I am a mobile developer and need both platforms. So, I decided to keep only one phone. I took my old Android device, migrated everything I had on it to my new device and left the iPhone migration for later, there was a lot to change, you know?
Fair enough. Over the weekend, on May 8, I started my migration from iPhone to Android. I was able to migrate everything except the WhatsApp history. The Facebook app saves data to iCloud Drive on the iPhone and on Android, it uses Google Drive. There is no way to backup on one operating system and restore it to the other.
I bought a software called iCareFone that does the backup, yet it was difficult to restore the data, so I decided to give it a try.
I took all my WhatsApp data from my iPhone, copied it and set it up for backup. I went to Google, signed up for more space on Google Drive, increasing to 100Gb and that was it, I uploaded everything to Google Drive.
If only I had lost my WhatsApp backup and kept my Google account
There were many videos of important people in my life that I see very little, like my maternal grandmother who lives far away from home. I had very little contact with her and very few pictures with her. I had not backed up these moments on another platform, they were all in Google Drive. In order not to lose the most recent photos that I had taken and were only in the conversation exchanges in family groups on WhatsApp, I decided that I would not lose these memories.
I uploaded these and several other moments to Google Drive last May 10. But I did not know that there were other materials in the WhatsApp backup that could be harmful content or that violate Google’s rules. In fact, I don’t know if there really is that in my backup. That was the “only” justification Google gave me and nothing else.
Disabled account, no notice, no forgiveness, no talk… expulsion
The account is simply the center of my entire digital life. Everything is tied to that account. On top of all this, there are also important things stored in the email, like serial numbers of software I have purchased, billing documents for virtual and physical products and services, medical history information, and a multitude of important information of my life.
Google disabled my account… without me even knowing why.
I don’t know what rule I violated, what content is inappropriate, for how long the blocking will last.
I couldn’t get ANY contact with Google. It is simply impossible to talk to them. Maybe I can talk to the president of the USA, but Google, no… impossible.
I classify what happened as a “virtual death sentence” with no right to plea, conversation, backup, nothing.
All thrown in the garbage by Google because of an infraction that I don’t know what it is and I didn’t have the opportunity to argue, talk, ask for help, help, or feedback. Google deleted a lifetime, swept my data, my internet life, video history, opened tabs, my Android developer account, EVERYTHING. (Below you’ll see A SMALL FRACTION of the services that were disabled). Apart from a few thousand others that I honestly have no idea how much I’ve lost.
I DOUBT they will read this feedback. It is IMPOSSIBLE to talk to them, impossible to have any kind of contact. Google has no idea of the impact on my life because of this CONDEMNATION, THIS LYNCHING. Google is unapproachable.
I found out (one would imagine, of course) that, like me, there are thousands and thousands of people in the same situation. I know that there are billions of accounts blocked every day for purposely inflicting the rules, for trying to use the services to store inappropriate material, piracy, violence and so on. But this is not my case. In 17 years of having an account I have never had an incident, there has never been a problem on my account. A company that every day shows us its advances in Artificial Intelligence to assist humans in various tasks, cannot create a system capable of detecting an infraction and punish in a way that does not harm the user. Strange, isn’t it?
Google, why doesn’t your system scan the account, identify the problem (video, photo, etc.), delete it and communicate the user with an alert?
Why don’t you check the user’s account time, how many infractions have been committed, validate the situation and then punish the user if it is a recurrence or something like that?
But no. They simply level people down. The company has NO IDEA what impact it can have with a block like that. It gives you no chance to back up anything, to get any contacts back, to reason, to talk…no chance to fix the mistake.
Below are some of the services that have been swept:
Google Drive, Gmail, PlayStore, PlayStore Console, Calendar, Keep, Contacts, App Logins, Photos, YouTube, YouTube Premium, saved passwords, visited pages history, video history, saved tabs, Search Forms, Google Analytics, Google AdSense, access history for the blog I own, achievements received by email, documents, history of apps downloaded on Google Play, gaming achievements, podcast subscriptions, purchase histories, product invoices received by email, software licenses I purchased. Google threw everything away by disabling my account, no warning, no conversation, no tolerance, no user service, just the commands of an artificial (un)intelligence that is not able to think like a human being and give a second chance to its user, precisely because it has no commitment to it.
Deeply disappointed by Google’s unwillingness.
I hope that one day they will read this post and come to me to better understand the problem, however I have no faith that this will one day even be read or indexed in Google searches.
If you know a way to get this letter to Google, share it on your social networks. And if you’re going through it too, it’s another reason to do it.