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Internet giant Google is currently notifying users via email that the company’s social network Google+ (G+) will soon be shut down. News of the closure was first announced in late 2018.
Unfortunately, it appears that some recipients are misinterpreting the information in the email and are concluding that their entire Google Account is set to be closed. Breathless rumours are spreading that Gmail and other Google services such as Google Docs and Google Drive will be shut down on April 2nd, 2019.
But, these rumours are unfounded. The closure of Google+ will have no impact whatsoever on other Google services such as Gmail.
The official Google FAQ page about the closure includes the following entry:
When Google launched Google+ back in 2011, the company had high hopes that the product would become a popular alternative to Facebook and other social networks.
However, despite gaining a relatively small base of loyal users, Google+ was never successful. Many people found it confusing to use and, despite several iterations, consumer adoption remained low. It never came close to being a serious contender to Facebook.
Then, in late 2018, Google rather belatedly disclosed a Google+ security flaw that had exposed the profile data of hundreds of thousands of users. This was the final nail in the coffin for the ailing social network and Google decided to “sunset” the product.
Why the Confusion?
In a rather misguided attempt to gain more users for G+, Google configured their account creation system so that if you signed up for a Google product such as Gmail, you more or less automatically got a Google+ Profile as well.
Thus, a great many Google account holders have never or hardly ever used Google+ and may not even remember that they have a profile there. Some may not even know what Google+ is despite having a G+ Profile attached to their Google Account. So, many people who receive the closure notification may have no clear idea what Google+ actually is and may be more likely to misinterpret the meaning of the message.
Moreover, many people have an unfortunate tendency to quickly skim read long emails, which increases the chances that the information will be misinterpreted.
And, to make matters worse, at least a few people who have misunderstood the contents of the email, will likely post their own version of the “news” on social media, thus spreading the false rumours far and wide.
To be fair to Google, the notification message is actually quite clear. Anybody who takes the time to read it properly is unlikely to conclude that their entire Google account is set to be closed. It reads in part:
You’ve received this email because you have a consumer (personal) Google+ account or you manage a Google+ page.
In December 2018, we announced our decision to shut down Google+ for consumers in April 2019 due to low usage and challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations. We want to thank you for being part of Google+ and provide next steps, including how to download your photos and other content.
On April 2nd, your Google+ account and any Google+ pages you created will be shut down and we will begin deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts
If you don’t actively use your Google+ account, you will likely not even miss it when it’s gone. And, to reiterate, the demise of Google+ will have no impact whatsoever on email or other services associated with your Google Account.