If you haven't logged into your Google account for some time, chances are, you've either jumped to a new account or have moved onto a new service. Well, if you're like me, and you have anything you want to keep on those old accounts, you're going to want to log into the account in order to preserve its contents. Google recently announced changes to its inactive account policies, giving the company the authority to delete accounts if they have been inactive for two years. Thankfully, the purge of accounts won't start immediately, but the firm does have plans to begin the process sometime at the end of the year.
Why is Google doing this?
The company announced the change through its The Keyword blog, citing security risks as one of the reasons for the update. It found that inactive accounts are more likely to be compromised, and could be used for malicious reasons like "identity theft to a vector for unwanted or even malicious content, like spam." The new update will allow Google to delete personal accounts if there hasn't been any activity for two years. Google has made it clear that this will not affect accounts for schools and businesses.
What is going to be deleted?
As far what it means to have an account deleted, Google is pretty clear in its message, sharing that when an account is deleted, it will remove all data found on any of its services like Gmail, Docs, Drive, YouTube, Google Photos, you name it. While I'm sure we can all appreciate Google's commitment of trying to adhere to industry standards with regard to data retention, this is quite a big move, and one that could cause some pain and confusion if not properly done. Imagine all the important YouTube videos that would be wiped off the platform because a creator is no longer active on the account.
So what about YouTube videos?
YouTube Creator Liaison Rene Ritchie has chimed through Twitter about this and has stated that Google doesn't have plans to delete any accounts that have videos up on YouTube. Per usual, communication about this big move seems to be all over the place as of now, with 9to5Google getting a statement from a Google spokesperson stating “At this time, we do not plan to delete accounts with YouTube videos.” The words "at this time" from Google don't bring confidence but let's hope that the firm really doesn't begin deleting videos off its platform from abandoned accounts, as a lot of important internet history could be lost.
What's the process going to be like?
We're still many months away from Google starting this process but of course it already has details about how it's going to roll this out stating that the policy change will start effectively immediately, but it won't begin deleting accounts until December 2023. Once it starts deleting accounts it will take a "phased approach staring with accounts that were created and never used again." Prior to deleting an account, it will notify the account holder months in advance multiple times to the primary and recovery email listed. Knowing Google we're definitely going to be hearing more about this as the time gets closer, but just in case, it's good to get a jump on the situation and log into an abandoned account if you want to keep its contents.