Gmail is a free email service developed by Google with an estimated 1.8 billion users worldwide in 2020. First launched in 2004 in beta, it went on to replace Yahoo, the industry leader in the e-mail business at the time.
When it first launched, Gmail offered just 1GB of storage per user. While that might sound small by today’s measures, it was much bigger than the competitors at the time.
Today, the service comes with 15 GB of storage. Users can receive emails up to 50 megabytes in size, including attachments. Gmail users can also send emails up to 25 megabytes. Sending larger files requires users to insert them through Google Drive.
As part of its GSuite offering, Gmail also allows for using the platform as an e-mail client.
Gmail has a search-oriented interface and a "conversation view" similar to an Internet forum. The service is notable among website developers for its early adoption of Ajax.
Another notable Gmail feature is its automatic scanning for emails. Filters look for spam, malware, and to add context-sensitive advertisements next to emails.
Privacy advocates have criticized this, citing concerns over unlimited data retention, ease of monitoring by third parties, users of other email providers not having agreed to the policy upon sending emails to Gmail addresses, and the potential for Google to change its policies to further decrease privacy by combining information with other Google data usage.
The company has been the subject of lawsuits concerning the issues. Google has stated that email users must "necessarily expect" their emails to be subject to automated processing and claims that the service refrains from displaying ads next to potentially sensitive messages, such as those mentioning race, religion, sexual orientation, health, or financial statements. In June 2017, Google announced the end to the use of contextual Gmail content for advertising purposes, relying instead on data gathered from the use of its other services.
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