By Chris Stokel-Walker
When he received the notification from Google he couldn’t quite believe it.
Cleroth, a game developer who asked not to use his real name, woke up to see a message that all his Google accounts were disabled due to “serious violation of Google policies.”
His first reaction was that something must have malfunctioned on his phone.
Then he went to his computer and opened up Chrome, Google’s internet browser. He was signed out. He tried to access Gmail, his main email account, which was also locked.
“Everything was disconnected,” he told Business Insider.
Cleroth had some options he could pursue: One was the option to try and recover his Google data — which gave him hope. But he didn’t go too far into the process because there was also an option to appeal the ban. He sent in an appeal.
He received a response the next day: Google had determined he had broken their terms of service, though they didn’t explain exactly what had happened, and his account wouldn’t be reinstated. (Google has been approached for comment on this story.)
Cleroth is one of a number of people who have seen their accounts suspended in the last few days and weeks. In response to a tweet explaining his fear at being locked out of his Google account after 15 years of use, others have posted about the impact of being barred from the company that runs most of the services we use in our day-to-day lives.
“I’ve been using a Google account for personal and work purposes for years now. It had loads of various types of data in there,” said Stephen Roughley, a software developer from Birkenhead, UK.
“One day when I went to use it I found I couldn’t log in.”
Roughley checked his backup email account and found a message there informing him his main account had been terminated for violating the terms of service.
“It suggested that I had been given a warning and I searched and searched but couldn’t find anything,” added Roughley. “I…