Is Gmail shutting down in August?

By February 29, 2024 Technology

This screenshot has been shared widely on social media with the claim that Google is “sunsetting” or terminating Gmail services on 1 August 2024 to develop “new technologies and platforms.” According to the claim, Gmail accounts will become inaccessible after that date.While several posters on X claim to have received the notification directly from Gmail, it appears that every post is sharing the exact same screenshot – which does not show the full email, nor any identifying information about when the message was sent (or by and to whom exactly). This lack of complete information was, to us, an immediate red flag.Fact-checking by platforms such as AFP Fact-check and Forbes have since dug deeper and identified an individual (only known as “SHL0MS” on social media) who claimed to AFP that they were responsible for altering an old email from Google to intentionally spread the claim as a hoax. SHL0MS was the first account on X to post the screenshot, which spread quickly and gained millions of views. While this first post and several other reposts have received community notes debunking them, other posts are still being circulated and causing confusion.  Further confusion exists because Gmail did announce plans last year to sunset its basic HTML feature (which is optimised for use in low-connectivity areas) in January 2024. However, this does not impact regular Gmail services at all.  A day after the claim first emerged, the Gmail X account posted a tweet reading “Gmail is here to stay,” confirming that it has no plans to shut down the Gmail messaging service.  Therefore, we give this claim a rating of false. The image of an email message was intentionally altered with false information to intentionally mislead viewers.

This claim and the way it spread – facilitated by users reporting the screenshot while also lying about receiving the email personally – illustrates how the spread of dis/misinformation is complicated.Instead of a single bad actor, claims such as this spread even faster due to other posters (many of them “blue checks” on X) being incentivised to makes viral posts for profit and visibility. It is therefore important to be wary of startling claims that suddenly emerge and seem backed up or repeated by multiple viral posters, as this is not necessarily an indicator of trustworthiness.

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