Google has been forced to publicly affirm that its email service Gmail is “here to stay” after a hoax circulated on social media falsely claiming that the platform would be shutting down.

The misinformation, which spread widely on platforms like X (formerly Twitter), alleged that Gmail would be closing its doors in August. The post gained significant traction, amassing over seven million views.

In response, Google took to X to debunk the false claim, reiterating Gmail’s continued presence and dismissing the hoax.

Communications experts have highlighted the incident as a poignant example of the dangers posed by misinformation online. Richard Bagnall, CEO of communications evaluation firm CARMA, underscored the challenge of verifying facts in an environment where unfiltered and unverified information proliferates.

While social media platforms grapple with misinformation, X has faced particular scrutiny for its role in spreading falsehoods. The EU, in 2023, criticised the platform for its perceived inadequacy in curbing misinformation while emphasising a commitment to both tackling hate speech and preserving free speech.

The hoax appears to have stemmed from a real email sent by Google in 2023, which notified users of changes to Gmail’s HTML view. Despite the false claims, Gmail remains the world’s most popular email service, boasting over 1.5 billion active users worldwide.

While Google has emphatically refuted the hoax, it is worth noting that the tech giant has indeed shuttered some services in recent years. In 2023 alone, Google discontinued its Stadia gaming service, YouTube Stories feature, and initiated the closure of old and inactive Gmail accounts. Additionally, plans to sunset Google Podcasts have been announced, with functionality increasingly being integrated into YouTube Music, another Google-owned platform.