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Google Can't Tell If I'm Alive

I woke up this morning to find an email from Google’s Inactive Account Manager waiting for me. Apparently, they haven’t detected any activity from me in a while, and were asking me to check in to confirm I was still alive and well!

Initially I was concerned that it might be a scam, but examination of the email headers showed it to be genuine. Then I was mildly annoyed at the inconvenience of having to go into my Google account, something I only do when I have to.

Since I do make use of a few Google services, and would be peeved if Google pulled the plug on them, I’ve now turned off the Inactive Account Manager. Instead, I’ll leave instructions alongside my Will as to what should be done with my online presences.

But then I got to wondering why Google thought I was inactive, since I’d recently logged into Google in Firefox in order to set that up as a Container-ed space for any interactions I needed to do, and had also done some stuff with a shared Google Drive folder using Transmit. I’ve had my search history and other tracking preferences turned off in my account for a long while, but I doubt those are the reason. One thing that has changed this year is that I started using NextDNS to filter out trackers at the network level. So perhaps Google were still tracking me, albeit indirectly, and it was the prolonged lack of pings that got their attention? It wouldn’t surprise me at all if that were the case, since Google’s behaviour around phasing out cookies shows they fully intend to keep tracking people, it’s just the methods that’ll change.

It is somewhat gratifying to know that my efforts to remove tracking from my devices appears to be working, at least in this instance. So this story ends with a smile on my face. :)

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