Fake email claims Gmail will shut down, causing panic among users

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    26th February 2024 – (New York) An email message circulating on social media, purporting to be from Google, has caused a stir by falsely claiming that the Gmail service will be shutting down on 1st August. The realistic-looking email, shared on X (formerly known as Twitter), carried the headline “Google is sunsetting Gmail” and addressed Gmail users, stating that the service would cease to support email functions from that date. The message quickly gained traction, with many users taking it seriously, given recent reports of Google deleting old Gmail accounts and implementing stricter rules for bulk senders. Additionally, Google has a history of discontinuing services, which added to the credibility of the email.

    However, astute readers noticed that the X post had been flagged as manipulated media. X’s policy prohibits the sharing of media that has been significantly altered or fabricated. It turned out that the circulated statement was a modified version of a genuine Google announcement regarding the removal of the basic HTML view in Gmail messages.

    Responding to the hoax, Google promptly addressed the situation on X, affirming that Gmail is not closing down and reassuring users that the service will continue to operate as usual.

    The dissemination of such false information can cause unwarranted anxiety among users and potentially lead to phishing attempts. Disinformation campaigns can have serious consequences, undermining trust in online platforms and compromising user security. It is important for users to exercise caution and verify the authenticity of information before panicking or taking action.

    While the Gmail closure hoax has been debunked, Google did announce the discontinuation of another service, but only for certain users. Joris van Mens, Google Pay’s group product manager, revealed that the service would be closing down for some users in the United States starting from June 4, 2024. The closure will affect those who use the Google Pay app in the U.S., while users in India and Singapore will still have access to the service.

    To simplify the user experience, U.S. users will be able to access the most popular features, such as tapping to pay in stores and managing payment methods, directly through Google Wallet, which is more frequently used than the Google Pay app in the U.S. Affected users will still be able to view and transfer balances from their Google Pay accounts to a bank account, but they will no longer be able to send, request, or receive money through the U.S. version of the Google Pay app.