Google Plus deletes comments in Gmail; Facebook doesn't

Google Plus deletes comments in Gmail; Facebook doesn't

Summary: If you need to keep copies of comments on Google Plus, you have to save them separately. You can’t rely on emailed comments or on “emails” from G+, because Google deletes them from your Gmail inbox if someone removes the post

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TOPICS: Google
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Google is integrating Google Plus, its struggling bulletin board system (BBS), with other offerings such as Gmail.

One of the benefits is that you can post comments directly from your Gmail inbox, without having to using G+'s slow and clunky interface. One of the drawbacks is that Google can delete these comments from your inbox, without asking you.

G+ notifications look like emails in Gmail, and most users would consider it an outrage if their email supplier deleted emails behind their backs. So, if you want to keep these Gmail comments, you must either save them or forward them to another email service.

Gmail with Hangouts
Google is integrating Google+ features with Gmail.

It's a good idea to do this anyway. Forwarding all Gmail to another service, such as Yahoo Mail or Microsoft’s Outlook.com, provides a backup in case you are ever locked out of Gmail, or vice versa.

You might even consider switching away from Gmail entirely, on the grounds that you can no longer trust it. For example, someone who sends you an "email" message from G+ can edit it later, to change the contents, or delete it from your Gmail. They cannot do this if you use a different email service, beyond Google's control. (Tech experts may know these are not really emails, but I suspect most people will be confused by their appearance.)

You must obviously keep separate copies of your own comments, since G+ doesn't email you copies of these as part of the standard set-up. Indeed, if you are going to spend a significant amount of time making non-trivial comments, it's better to put these on your own blog, where you have control, rather than providing another service with free editorial to sell ads against.

One of the main topics of conversation on G+ is the awfulness of Facebook. However, when Facebook emails you other people's comments, at least you don't have to worry about them disappearing later.

Of course, comments on bulletin boards are always at the mercy of whoever started and/or owns the thread. If someone on a forum deletes their original post, all the comments usually go with it. When someone deletes a post on G+, the same thing happens. That shouldn't be surprising. What isn't normal is that email copies of comments get deleted as well.

If Google is going to do this, it should warn people in advance, rather than obliging them to learn the hard way.

Amusingly enough, I learnt this the hard way by making comments that were critical of G+ on a post from a Google employee/G+ evangelist. (It is, obviously, shocking that anyone should have the temerity to criticise G+ in public. Anyone who does this is a troll to be blocked, if not sent to jail without passing Go.) By deleting his G+ post and/or blocking me, Mr A Googler also removed the only visible copies of my comments. These could have been useful to anyone writing a blog post along the lines of "The top 5 reasons G+ deserves to die", though the system's failings may be too obvious for this to matter.

As it happens, I do have all my Gmail emails forwarded to another mailbox, but I don't think many people take this simple precaution. It could be important if there is a dispute.

Otherwise, I've just been distracted by some racy Facebook comments about journalistic shenanigans and PR failures. I wasn't wildly surprised when the group hosting these old stories seemed to vanish overnight, but I knew that whatever I'd missed would have been piped past my Gmail inbox into a Facebook "folder", so I could read them later. And I did.

Facebook 1 Google Plus 0.

Topic: Google

Jack Schofield

About Jack Schofield

Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first website and, in 2001, its first real blog. When the printed section was dropped after 25 years and a couple of reincarnations, he felt it was a time for a change....

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11 comments
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  • Saving Google+ posts / comments

    Why on earth would I want to save comments from Google+ discussions on my Gmail when I can use Topsy? Why save them at all? Stalking or trolling someone?

    "G+'s slow and clunky interface"? :-) Oh dear. Now I see why Apple is the most used word on your Google+ posts.

    Yahoo mail, are you serious? :-)
    Sorry but the article made me laugh.

    "You might even consider switching away from Gmail entirely, on the grounds that you can no longer trust it."

    Google does not delete any comments, the users who posted them in the first place CAN do that. Please get you facts right.

    #Linkbaiting
    JaanaNystrom
    • What a joke

      This guy has no clue what he's talking about. After reading his bio its obvious he's has a long career of that. Bent journalism at it's best (or worst). Dear author, who paid you for this article? Microsoft or Facebook?

      Did you really commend Gmail users switch to Yahoo? And then to accuse Gmail of not being trusted? As Janna above me said, 'Please get your facts right'.
      ZDNetFan1Million
  • Its called Cascade Delete

    It's Authorized Cascade Delete living it's life and purpose to its logical fullest.
    rdcabebox
  • Another reason to use G+

    Sweet. That means if you post something you regret, you can delete it and it's deleted from everything Google can delete it from.

    And why on earth would you write a blog post on why G+ needs to die? What did G+ ever do to you? (I mean other than preventing you from using someone's deleted words against them?)

    Facebook on the other hand, never deletes anything. They say they do, but they don't. When people request their data to be downloaded, they get stuff they deleted.
    CitrusRain
  • Google+ is a BBS?!?!

    "Google is integrating Google Plus, its struggling bulletin board system (BBS), with other offerings such as Gmail."

    I used to run a BBS. Google+, or even Facebook, are not BBS's. It seems to me the author was stopped using the Internet around the time of AOL and is seeking to return to online life. My suggestion is that he brush up on "what the kids call it these days" before posting online.
    Paul Spoerry
    • Seconded

      Stopped reading the article as soon as I saw BBS. What a fool.
      Dametcalfe@...
  • My own experience with Google censorship

    Google has been censoring me for some years in some of their systems. I don't actually know the reason or the extent of the apparently permanent death penalty. There was no warning and there is no real path for appeal, though there is sometimes a button I can click on when I get the "Unable to access a Google product" error message.

    Why? I think that I said something unforgivable in the old groups, though my death penalty is clearly beyond that. What was unforgivable? I really don't know, though I had said that I believed the google could do more to stop spam.

    I used to think Google was sincerely trying to make the world better. Now I think the Google has become fundamentally evil and controlled by the love of money, and insofar as they are the leading high-tech lobbyist, they are increasingly to blame for their own evil. The rules of the business game in America are written by the most easily bribed politicians working for the LEAST ethical businessmen--which now includes the google.
    shanen0
    • Whoops. Sorry about the double post

      I flagged the second one, hopefully for deletion. I do see something that I would clarify if it were possible to edit the post...

      I suspect the death penalty was based on a comment in the old Groups, but the systems it extends to now include a bunch of other systems, including many of the so-called support systems of the google's other products. I'm not even sure comment was recent, since I'd using the newsgroups for many years. Maybe they dug up comments they didn't like from before the existence of the google? Aye, there were flamewars in those days, but actually if my words were sometimes harsh, I tried to keep them measured... My harshest comment were probably directed at a fellow who became a rather prominent lawyer...
      shanen0
  • My own experience with Google censorship

    Google has been censoring me for some years in some of their systems. I don't actually know the reason or the extent of the apparently permanent death penalty. There was no warning and there is no real path for appeal, though there is sometimes a button I can click on when I get the "Unable to access a Google product" error message.

    Why? I think that I said something unforgivable in the old groups, though my death penalty is clearly beyond that. What was unforgivable? I really don't know, though I had said that I believed the google could do more to stop spam.

    I used to think Google was sincerely trying to make the world better. Now I think the Google has become fundamentally evil and controlled by the love of money, and insofar as they are the leading high-tech lobbyist, they are increasingly to blame for their own evil. The rules of the business game in America are written by the most easily bribed politicians working for the LEAST ethical businessmen--which now includes the google.
    shanen0
  • This article is hilarious

    "G+'s slow and clunky interface"? I think you never used it. The interface is pretty snappy. It loads almost immediately. I even saw facebookers commenting how impressively fast it was for the amount of dynamic content it carries.

    "BBS"? Oh god. You have no idea about what you are talking. :)
    BioNerd
  • The article is extremely comical

    "BBS"? Oh gosh. You sir know nothing about the internet and have no idea what you're talking about. :)

    I highly recommend that you read these two articles:

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulletin_board_system
    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_network_service

    Now, let me address your rant about Google "deleting emails."

    First of all, they're not even "emails." They appear as emails in Gmail to make it more consistent with Gmail's UI, but they are just notifications. Facebook's system removes notifications when a post or comment is deleted as well.

    The reason it "deletes" is because when the post is deleted, it's not right to keep an exact copy of the post in someone's inbox.

    If you use a desktop mail application, it won't be deleted. Same with using the mail application on your phone. Google only controls the Google+ 'email' notifications in the Gmail web client.

    A trick I have found out is that if you double or triple click a Google+ email in Gmail, it will actually show their normal email message that they send when you get a notification of comments and it won't load the interactive layout.

    The only reason Facebook doesn't "delete" notifications when a post is deleted is because they cannot. I bet if Facebook owned a popular email client like Gmail they'd be doing the same exact thing.

    Facebook can't control emails because once an email is sent out by their system it's out of their control. Google+, on the other hand, is owned by Google which is the owner of Gmail so they can make it a better user experience by allowing you to interact within the Google+ "email" notification.
    Nathan4321