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Why I stopped using Notion app and closed my account

Privacy concerns, limited security, problems with basic functionalities, and a plan management bug made me close the Notion account.

Notion is a fantastic platform that can enforce you with everything you need to make your work more creative and productive – no matter what you do.

Many Notion users will hate me for what I will write below. The fact is that a week ago, I started to look for Notion alternatives, and eventually decided to close my account.

It all started with a little alert window on a Notion website about the privacy policy update.

Why I deleted my Notion account – the main reasons

Why I deleted Notion account

Privacy policy raises concerns

In Terms and Privacy, the company claims: “Notion does not own your data, nor do we sell it to others or use it for advertising. It’s your data, period ✌️.”

And then, there are privacy policy updates.

Every time any web platform informs about the update of its terms of use or privacy policy, a red light starts blinking in my head. Because almost always these changes are to users’ disadvantage.

Notion updated their privacy policy at the beginning of February 2022. A brief alert message sent to a detailed and overwhelming privacy policy page. No summary of changes or before vs. after comparison of changed sections discourage users from reading the entire text.

What you are doing instead? You are browsing the web for highlights and comments. This Reddit thread summarizes the February 2022 Notion privacy Policy update. One user says: “It seems as though they are aiming to sell personal data.”

I decided to compare the current and previous privacy policy, and can say that not much had changed when it comes to selling information to third parties (see chapter 3 – “Disclosing your information to third parties”). It was already quite creepy before. And yes, Notion does use the user data for advertising – their service. For that, the company is using third-party advertising platforms. So the original claim is not 100% true.

To me, the biggest source of concern is what happens in the event of merger or sale of the company: “your information may be sold or transferred as part of such a transaction, as permitted by law and/or contract.”

Notion is an innovative, fast-developing startup. The merger or sale may take place sooner than anyone thinks. What happens with the user data, including the sensitive one?

No way to opt out from third-party data processing

For a long time, I was on a Personal Pro plan ($5 per month or $48 annually). As a paid subscriber, I wanted to have an option to opt out from data collection for marketing purposes or sharing data with third parties. There was no such option in the Settings.

Currently, the only way to opt out from the standard privacy policy is to contact Notion at team@makenotion.com. Not an easy way to manage privacy and sensitive personal data.

You may say that any digital platform is collecting, processing and sharing user’s personal information, be it Facebook, YouTube, or Notion.

True, but there is an essential difference between, let’s say, Facebook and Notion. 90% of what you write on Facebook is meant to go public. 90% of what you write on Notion is meant to stay private.

My workspace was 100% private. Notion – and its business partners, service providers, and affiliates – were processing the content.

A lack of 2-step authentication

If you are using a web platform as your main – and fully private –  workspace, you expect it to be as secure as possible. Why doesn’t Notion still offer a two-step verification?

An option to enable 2FA should be available in all Notion plans, including the free one. It is not only about protecting your credentials and billing information. Most of all, it’s about protecting the content you create. Ask yourself how much of what you have written in Notion you’d accept leaking to the public.

Basic functions don’t work

Notion is adding new features and integrations at an unprecedented pace. It’s the world’s most innovative project management platform. Full stop.

And it’s why the problems will inevitably appear. The more new blocks and functionalities are being added, the harder it is to use basic functions, such as a spell checker.

Notion had a built-in spell checker, but an option to disable/enable it disappeared from the interface some time ago. You had to rely on browser, system, or third-party spell checkers.

I have been using LanguageTool for a long time, and it is working great in all web domains except Notion. A few weeks ago, the spell checker stopped working in notion.so domain, both in Chrome and Safari on a Mac. I tested Grammarly, and the extension was displaying errors with a significant delay. Sometimes, you had to refresh the page to see spell checker’s suggestions. I observed a similar lag with a Chrome’s spell checker.

LanguageTool had to fix a compatibility issue a few times. It’s when I started to think: which service do I need more: a fantastic spell checker I depend on or a fantastic workspace I use in 10% of its capabilities?

Irritating mobile apps

At the beginning, like many new users impressed by the platform’s potential, I considered making Notion my primary working environment. I downloaded the app to both the iPhone and iPad. It was at the time when it took ages for the Notion app to load on opening. Therefore, using the app on a mobile device was not an option. 

Finally, a stable and quick version was released. It made Notion app a useful  companion, but it never made it to become my primary note-taking app on the go. It was too complex.

And then, about a year ago, a major bug made the Notion app log me out regularly. Every time the app’s newest version was installed on my iPad or iPhone, I had to type in my credentials to be able to use it.

It made me do the opposite: I stopped using Notion mobile apps at all.

Exporting files is a pain

Notion is a complex platform that lets you perform complex, multi-step tasks, using advanced blocks and languages.

It’s easy to understand that it will be difficult to export your workspace in case you decide to close your Notion account.

A Personal Pro plan lets you export posts in a few formats, including html and csv. If you want to export to pdf – and don’t want to do it page by page – you will need to upgrade to an Enterprise Plan. It will let you export the page and all subpages in bulk.

There is no option to export pages as doc files. In other words, there is no easy way back to a classic note-taking environment, be it Word or Google Docs.

I have spent a few hours to find a way to export my Notion workspace in a format that I would be able to edit later.

I have found out that Google Docs lets you easily open html files, and that it now comes with a few Notion features, naming only the “@” call for blocks and functions.

So, I decided to back up my Notion files in Google Drive and retrieve them to Google Docs when needed.

Issues when downgrading a plan

After I cleared my workspace from all pages, I wanted to downgrade the plan but keep the account so that I could use Notion as a quick note-taking solution.

And here comes the final reason I decided to delete my Notion account once and for good.

When I opened the billing section and went through the process of changing the plan to the Free one, the information at the top of the section confirmed the new status. So far, so good.

Then, accidentally, I opened the billing section one more time and noticed I was on a Personal Pro plan again.

So, I downgraded the plan once again. For a few minutes, the new status was displayed, and then, after refreshing the page, I was back on a paid Personal Pro plan.

There is no way to delete a credit card from Notion. The only way to make sure you won’t pay for the next subscription period is to contact the customer support or delete an account. I did the latter.

Conclusions

I will never again make a paid platform from a smaller company my main workspace. At some point, there will be problems.

Let’s say, the platform gets funding from an investor who expects a more aggressive marketing. The first thing to suffer is users’ privacy.

The more complex the platform becomes, the less compatible it is with other services. You become dependent on a solution, and it will be harder for you to find an alternative service and migrate your content to it.

When all you need is a solid, easy to use, and reliable note-taking platform, you don’t really need Notion. Notion is for professionals who rely on complex tools that can performs multi-level tasks.

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