Gmail is one of the most used email providers out there. But it also has one of the most controversial business practices when it comes to data and privacy.
And since Gmail has been involved in some privacy scandals, it’s no wonder people are trying to cut ties with the industry giant.
So, if you want to delete your Gmail account, we’ve prepared just the guide for you.
Before you delete your Gmail account
This might not come as a surprise, but Gmail is part of Google, one of the companies that pioneered data mining.
Whenever you use Google’s free services, the company gets vast amounts of information about you, and it uses some of it to better target you with ads. And since advertising accounts for over 70% of Google’s revenue, this practice isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.
If you want to put a stop to invasive practices and delete data-grabbing accounts, Gmail is a good place to start.
Before you begin, you might want to keep a copy of the information you generated. You can export it from the Google products you use, such as your:
- YouTube videos
- Registration and account activity
To get your archive:
- Go to https://takeout.google.com/
- Make sure Gmail is checked on the list of Google products that have your data.
- Click on ‘Next Step.’
- Choose the file type you want your data saved as and how you want to receive that file.
- Select ‘Create export.’
- When your archive is ready, Google notifies you. This process could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days.
Now that your information is in your hands, you can go ahead and delete your Gmail account.
How to delete your Gmail account permanently
Even if you delete your Gmail account, Google still has your data. The only consolation is you’ll no longer be feeding the algorithm.
Here’s how you can delete your Gmail account permanently.
- Go to your Google Account.
- On the left navigation panel, click ‘Data & personalization.’
- On the ‘Download, delete, or make a plan for your data panel,’ click ‘Delete a service or your account.’
- On the ‘Delete a Google service panel,’ click ‘Delete a service.’
- Confirm by typing your password.
- Next to ‘Gmail,’ select ‘Delete.’
- Follow the steps on the screen.
With this, all your emails and settings will be deleted, and no one else will be able to sign up for your Gmail handle.
However, this doesn’t affect your Google account. That one’s still active, and you can use it to access other services, like Google Play.
Gmail isn’t your ally in the fight for privacy
Trading privacy for convenience has been Google’s M.O. since the beginning. And Gmail is no different.
However, it mostly came under scrutiny when Google admitted its mail servers automatically scan emails to filter spam, weed out malware, and deliver contextual ads.
Over the years, privacy advocates have criticized this advertising practice, but they’ve also highlighted the fact that the company:
- Has an unlimited data retention period
- Lets third parties monitor you
- Combines user information across Google services
The company has also been the subject of lawsuits because of these ever-growing concerns over user privacy.
Despite the backlash, Google made its case by claiming that Gmail users should not expect privacy, liking the sentiment to Smith v. Maryland. This 1979 Supreme Court decision upheld the collection of electronic communications without a warrant.
Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their communications are processed by the recipient’s ECS provider in the course of delivery. Indeed, ‘a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.Google filing
Gmail – the inevitable evil?
This timeline of privacy mishaps is concerning. But unfortunately, Google Business is an attractive enough package that some people have to use Gmail in a professional or academic setting.
And while you won’t be able to mitigate Google’s data-mining practices, there are a few things you can do to lessen the impact Google has on your online privacy.
- Do not associate the Gmail account with your personal social media accounts, bank accounts, or gaming accounts.
- Do not use Gmail to sign up for any services outside of those required for work or school.
- Use a VPN. It’s a great way to improve your digital anonymity and security.
- If possible, only use Gmail services on your work phone or laptop. Don’t log in to the services on your personal devices.
- Likewise, only use your work phone when activating two-factor authentication (2FA).
- Check the permissions Gmail has on mobile devices and adjust them accordingly.
- Encrypt your Gmail emails to minimize what third parties can access.
- Learn to spot phishing emails to protect your data from scammers and other malicious parties.
While this isn’t 100% foolproof, it’s a start.
Do you plan on deleting your Gmail account? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time, stay safe and secure!