Google Groups is dropping Usenet support, and that is a good thing
Google announced this week that it plans to cut the ties to the Usenet in Google Groups. Starting February 22, 2024, Google Groups users can no longer post content to Usenet groups, subscribe to Usenet groups or view Usenet content published after February 22.
Native Google Groups content and communities continue to be available, as the change does not impact them. Google notes further that it will disband its Usenet infrastructure. These servers can not be used anymore to interact with the Usenet according to the announcement.
Google explains that activity in text-based Usenet groups has declined over the years. Large parts of the userbase have moved on to "more modern technologies and formats". The majority of content that is available on the Usenet is either binary files or spam, according to Google.
The Spam problem
While Google mentions that spam is a problem, it fails to point out that most of the spam posted to text-based Usenet groups originates from Google Groups. In fact, many Usenet regulars started to use filters to weed out anything that comes from Google Groups as a method to eliminate spam in their subscribed groups.
The tie cutting is therefore a welcome change for many Usenet users who are subscribed to text-based groups on the Usenet. Come February 2024, spam will drop to levels that are significantly lower than current levels.
What users can do about it
The shutting down of the news server is the main problem for users. They need to find another service that offers newsgroup access. One free option to access text-based groups is provided by Eternal September.
Besides having to find a new provider, users need to find a new client as well. Several free clients are available, including Mozilla Thunderbird, which supports newsgroups. You can check out Wikipedia's list of Usenet readers here.
Content posted before February 22, 2024 continues to be available on Google Groups, according to Google.
Google ending support for Usenet in Google Groups and disbanding its infrastructure is certainly disruptive for users who used the service to interact with the Usenet. On the other hand, it resolves a long-standing spam problem that Google did nothing about.
Now You: do you use the Usenet?Advertisement