Removing Usenet Postings From the Google Groups Database

One of the questions we often get in our live MCLE seminars regarding the Google Groups database is, "Can I remove old discussion group messages from this database?".

Google Groups

The answer is "yes" - as long as you still have access to the e-mail account from which the message was posted. Google Groups' Help pages run through the process to delete those messages.

The same Google Groups Help page indicates that there is a away to delete old discussion group posts "if you have forgotten your username or password" using Google's Account Recovery Form. Unfortunately, this method is only applicable to (formerly) registered Google Groups accounts and not messages posted directly to Usenet discussion groups from some long-ago-canceled e-mail address. "As Google does not control, but only archives Usenet newsgroups, [they] cannot verify obsolete email addresses or recover email addresses and passwords from other providers."

Google Groups (http://groups.google.com) is one of the best-known online communities. It’s a precursor to the more recent phenomena of social networking sites (such as Facebook and MySpace). Like social networking sites, Groups serves as a place where people of like minds share interests, similar to the way “friends” at various social networking sites combine into networks to share interests. However, users of Google Groups “share” via e-mail messages to their entire group instead of visiting a friend’s social networking profile and leaving comments.

To create Google Groups, in 2001 Google purchased 500 million public discussion group e-mail messages dating back to 1995 from Deja.com, and messages from other groups dating back to 1981. Subsequently, Google Groups has added (and continues to add) millions (and possibly billions) of messages to the original archive of messages.

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It’s important to note that these are not individual e-mail messages that were sent from person to person. These are not the e-mails we send to our clients, friends, family, etc. These discussion groups were always meant to be public. The difference now is that Google Groups gives us a one-stop search to access all of these public archives, rather than having to visit (and search) each one separately. People participating in these discussion groups in their earliest days couldn’t have foreseen the ease with which we can now locate those old posts, because Google didn’t even exist at the time.

Portions of this post are excerpted from:

 Google For Lawyers

"Google For Lawyers: Essential Search Tips and Productivity Tools" is a hands-on guide to the Google tools, tips, and tricks that can help you work smarter...not harder.


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