"Your account has been blocked" - 10 distressing stories from Google users
I’m not sure about you, but my life would be turned inside out if I woke up and found that my Google account is suspended or banned permanently with no way to recover it. Nearly my entire online life is pegged to my Google account. So getting blocked would be devastating and a major inconvenience for me. It would mean no access to emails on Gmail. My personal phone contacts would be no more. I would have no way to get my files on Google Drive. My sweet memories on Google Photos would be gone just like that. I can go on and on.
Just so you know, Google reserves all the rights to ban or block your account on whatever grounds they deem fit. The decision of how or whether you misused a service rests with Google. There isn’t much you can do if your account gets blocked.
Sure, it might not happen to you. Heck, probably only a few ever get to deal with losing access to their Google account. But the truth of the matter is it can happen. In fact, it does happen. And to attest to this, I’ve put together 10 distressing stories from people who lost their accounts after Google blocked, suspended or banned them permanently.
1. Google account banned due to spamming emotes on YouTube
This is one of the most ironical events to take place. Google banned accounts owned by fans of popular YouTuber known as Markiplier for spamming emotes on a video. Ironically, this encouraged using emotes. It happened during an interactive livestream video of the YouTube Original “A Heist with Markiplier.” Markiplier allowed viewers to vote in the chat using custom red and green emotes. With many in attendance, the chat was quickly flooded with numerous emotes.
But then people started noticing that YouTube was kicking them out of the livestream. This was happening because their accounts were getting banned or suspended automatically due to what Google thought was emote spam. While this wasn’t initially an issue, things got murkier when some of those affected found out that their Google account had also been banned. Yes, this meant they could not access emails on Gmail, photos and videos on Google Photos, and documents in Google Docs, among other Google services.
Of course, Google has an account recovery process. But they somehow rejected most people’s appeals against the ban, which got Markiplier fuming, as seen in the video above.
Google reserves the right to ban or suspend any account it dims is in violation of its terms of service. But suspending an entire Google account due to spamming emotes is quite ludicrous, especially since the stream actually encouraged using emotes in the chat. On the brighter side, Google did look into the issue and addressed it, but not without some effort from Markiplier in what was one of the best gestures for his fans.
2. Account flagged due to naked toddler photos taken for the doctor
In another strange occurrence, The New York Times published an article titled “A Dad Took Photos of His Naked Toddler for the Doctor. Google Flagged Him as a Criminal.” Reading the headline sounds like some kind of made-up joke, but going deeper into the article revealed it actually happened.
In 2021, a California dad who had captured and saved naked photos of their toddler’s swollen groin so as to send them to the doctor for further assessment got their Google account suspended alongside a 10-month criminal investigation. Because of the pandemic, the dad couldn’t pay the doctor an in-office visit. As a result, the doctor asked for photos ahead of the emergency consultation. The dad went ahead and shared the photos of his son’s private parts with the doctor, but they also got backed up on Google cloud. As a result, Google’s AI flagged these photos as potential child abuse content.
Crazy as it might sound, the dad was then notified that his Google account had been blocked as a result of these images. Like anyone else, he did appeal to Google against this ban while also clarifying the photos were meant for the doctor, but Google wasn’t taking any of that. According to Google, regardless of the father’s good intentions, he used “harmful content” in what was “severe violation of Google’s policies” and illegal as well. This meant he could no longer access any data associated to his Google account, including being blocked by Google Fi.
Upon investigation, the San Francisco police department found that “no crime had occurred.” But this didn’t stop Google from holding onto its verdict and eventually deleted the account permanently.
3. Google account disabled on suspicion of child abuse content
Still on suspicious child abuse content, another recent case saw Google take away “years of hard work and precious memories, within a second” for Kriti Handa, an advocate who shared their ordeal on Medium and Google support forum. Like many of us, Handa’s Google account was tied to multiple Google services such as Google Drive, Google Photos, Google Pay, YouTube, and so on. Having been in the profession for 8 years, Handa had so much work-related data on their old laptop that they recently decided to backup on Google Drive. It took several days to filter out the data — which also included about 7,000 photos and videos as well as documents — and upload it to the cloud. Little did they know this would be the beginning of the worst nightmare.
Google said the account was banned due to child sexual abuse or exploitation, something the victim vehemently denies. Like the California dad, Google’s AI flagged this account on suspicion of child sexual abuse. However, Handa denies having photos of naked children in their collection and even appealed the ban, but Google won’t budge. With no access to their Google account, it also meant no access to their life’s hard work, all dear memories, Gmail, YouTube, and other services that relied on the account.
4. Account suspended after 7-year-old uploaded his butt on YouTube
This one is a little hilarious. So, a few weeks ago, a Redditor by the name u/UseTheWandHarry narrated how Google nearly robbed them 15 years of life. This is after their 7-year-old son filmed short clips of himself mooning at the camera and somehow managed to upload on YouTube. The kid has their own smartphone that’s connected to the same Google account, which is how 8 mooning videos found their way to the parent’s YouTube account.
Like yours truly, the Redditor found this to be “very funny.” But the fun didn’t last long because the videos prompted Google to not only suspend the YouTube account, but also the entire Google account. With this, they couldn’t access emails on Gmail, Google Docs, and calendars. They had lost literally 15 years of work, how they manage life, photos, videos, resumes, and even their medical information. That’s literally everything, but still, Google didn’t listen to the numerous appeals against the suspension.
Luckily, and thanks to what the Redditor describes as “furious networking at my IT job,” they got hold of someone at Google who was able to resolve the issue for them. Quite a happy ending, but not everyone has “furious networking” with an IT job to top it off, so this is one lucky person.
5. Account suspended for accidentally buying two Google Pixels
That’s right. Yet another Redditor got their Google account permanently banned after accidentally buying two Pixel smartphones. It happened during last year’s Black Friday. You know how crazy it can get with limited Black Friday deals. A second or two late and you miss out on some crazy offer. Unfortunately, rushing through the buying process can lead to mistakes.
Apparently, this guy accidentally added two Google Pixel phones to their cart. Google shipped the two phones, but he returned the extra phone in order to get a refund. Somehow, the phone never made it back to Google. Since the package was lost before reaching Google, someone at Google advised them to place a chargeback on their credit card, which is when trouble set it. Apparently, placing the chargeback got their Google account permanently suspended, something that isn’t unique to Google. In fact, most major corporations may ban your account if you charge back. People have lost gaming libraries on Steam, Nintendo, Sony and others due to this.
However, the frustrating thing in this case is the author had multiple conversations with Google support, and the support agent told them to do a chargeback. But after this got the account suspended, another support agent later acknowledged that the recommendation to place a chargeback was wrong, but the ban remained in place regardless. Given the mistake was clearly on Google’s end, this suspension should have been lifted. But just like that, 15 years of history was gone!
6. Developer account terminated due to fraudulent app payments
The livelihoods of so many people depend on Google accounts. Whether you’re a YouTube creator or an Android app developer, getting your Google account suspended can be the beginning of a financial crisis. This recently happened to Kustom Live Wallpaper developer, an app with over 1 million downloads in the Google Play Store.
Apparently, the developer, who goes by the name Dshdinh Klwpthemes on Medium, got an email saying Google had terminated their developer account and removed all apps associated with it from the Play Store. “Your Google Play Developer account has been terminated due to violations of the Developer Program Policies and Developer Distribution Agreement by this or an associated Google Play developer account,” part of the email read. Apparently, this was due to fraudulent payment activity within the apps. However, the KLWP app developer denied having violated such payment policies. And despite making multiple appeals with proof showing they didn’t violate any payment policies, Google still held the suspension.
The developer suspects Google banned the account due to relations with Kuper Dashboard. This platform lets people with no knowledge of coding easily build themes, wallpapers and widgets. It’s a popular app in the theming community, and the KLWP developer had been using it for over a year to attach themes and publish them on the Google Play Store without any problems. Kuper Dashboard’s developer wasn’t privy to anything concerning when contacted by the KLWP owner about this Google ban, especially since others were still using it normally.
For the app’s developer, it was painful to lose years of work and what was essentially the job providing for his family and kid. It’s even more heartbreaking given the app was just getting more popular before the ban. But for Google, once terms are violated, there’s hardly going back.
7. Unable to login to Google account even with correct credentials
In another annoying incident a few years ago, Google reportedly blocked access to a Gmail account despite the owner having all the required credentials to log in. The email in question hadn’t been in use for close to a decade since the author ditched it for a new email. But occasionally, some people forget and send emails to the old account, at times even emergency emails, like in this case.
Apparently, someone in an urgent and critical medical situation sent a message to this email hoping to reach the author for help. Upon logging in with the right credentials, Google still wouldn’t let them in since the email had been dormant for years. To grant access, Google rightfully asked for some additional verification to prove that it’s indeed the actual owner of the account requesting access. The author provided the necessary details as requested, including the username, 50-character long password, secret question and the answer and even the date the account was created. But still, Google didn’t grant them access back to the account.
With the author having trouble providing sufficient proof of ownership, Google’s account recovery page was the next stop. The author followed the instructions, including using the same web browser and device to log in but nothing changed. Google even asked for another email to send a verification code. The code arrived in the secondary email and the author correctly confirmed it. But still, this wasn’t enough for Google to let them sign back into their Gmail account.
In the end, Google couldn’t verify that the account belonged to the author. Their solution? Create a brand new Gmail account, and never have access to a decade-old account that the author still had the full credentials to access.
8. Google account deactivated for “severe violation of policies and might be illegal”
A couple of months ago, a Redditor received a strange SMS directing them to start an appeal to get back their Google Account that had been deactivated due to “severe violation of Google’s policies and might be illegal.” Acting on this instruction, the victim sent at least two appeals but Google declined them. This left them with no way to not only access their Google account, but also over 400 accounts on various sites and platforms including business accounts, gaming accounts, banking accounts, social media accounts, Microsoft/Samsung/Xiaomi/Apple ID accounts, cloud storage accounts and many more sites tied to this email that required email code or SMS verification to log in.
The author also lost passwords for every account tied to the email, over 40,000 photos and videos on Google Photos, important files in Google Drive, important notes in Google Keep, a YouTube channel with uploaded videos, YouTube music playlists with over 10,000 songs, and over 200 work-related saved locations in Google Maps.
9. Google Drive account randomly suspended
For a quick reminder of how far back issues with Google suspending accounts go, this incident happened nearly 10 years ago. It started with a random email notification about violations of unspecified Google Drive terms and conditions. The victim, a student at the time, had been saving notes and research work to Google Drive for years. In fact, owing to the trust they had in Google’s products, the student took notes exclusively through Google Docs and saved to the suspended Google Drive account. With no way to access the account, it meant their hard work was gone.
Google not providing any specific reason for suspending the account is a known and annoying trend. It’s especially scary for a student on the verge of losing multiple school projects that probably had deadlines. On the brighter side, the author later found out Google had silently lifted the suspension, giving them back access to the Google Drive account. A good gesture, no doubt, but for something that probably shouldn’t have happened.
The student also came out with a huge lesson to always have an offline archive of all school work in addition to saving it on Google Drive or any other cloud service for that matter. But still, the least Google could do was give some explanation of why the ban was lifted. Unfortunately, as noted at the beginning, Google reserves the right to ban or suspend your account without any explanation as long as they think terms have been violated.
10. 10-year Google account blocked with no explanation
Still on Google reserving the right to terminate any account at will, another Redditor lost their “entire life on Google Drive and email” after Google suspended their account with no explanation at all. An email was sent to the author about violating unspecified terms of service. After a series of emails with Google support, no one clarified what part of the service agreement was violated.
Apparently, only the specialist team knew the reason the account was flagged, but they could only be reached via internal email. Basically, there was no way to contact anyone directly responsible for the ban for an explanation of what happened, which is what happens with just about every case.
Without any solid explanation, your 10-year-old Google account can be suspended in a split of a second with no way to recover it. This is what the company does, and it is justified considering it’s part of the terms of service you signed when creating a Google account. However, there needs to be some human intervention for cases being appealed, at least at a certain support level.
If someone makes multiple appeals that include sufficient proof of account ownership, an actual human needs to analyze the evidence. This shouldn’t be left to an extension of the AI that initially flagged the account. It’s possible Google’s AI doesn’t take context into account when reviewing photos, something Google is likely aware of. But in order to train and refine the AI for better filtering, such issues have to happen so that they can be looked at and fixed. Hopefully, this is the case, at least so that we have a future where accounts don’t get mistakenly suspended for misinterpretation.
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