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Google will begin deleting inactive accounts

Brother UK | FLICKR

Google’s new inactive account policy that will commence deleting inactive accounts will be in effect on Dec. 1.

Google labels “security and confidentiality of your information” as its top priority in its privacy policy. With this promise in mind, Google updated its inactive account policy this past May, but removing inactive accounts was ineffective until December.

Google’s vice president of project management, Ruth Kricheli, wrote that inactive accounts were ten times less likely to have two-step verification set up than active accounts. These accounts are vulnerable to “security threats, like spam, phishing scams, and account hijacking,” and “when compromised, [accounts] can be used for anything from identity theft to a vector for unwanted or even malicious content, like spam.”

Google accounts that have not been used or logged into for the past two years are subject to deletion, which includes all contents in Google Workspace — Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar — and Google Photos. This new policy only includes personal accounts, excluding business and school accounts.

Kricheli stated that the company is taking a “phased approach.” The beginning cycle will delete accounts that have been created but never used again. If applicable, all google accounts that may face deletion will be emailed multiple notifications to the account email address and the recovery emails.

To maintain an account’s activity, users should sign into their accounts every two years.

Additionally, what deems an account active is if users are logging/logged during any of the following activities: reading or sending an email, using Google Drive, downloading an app on the Google Play Store, using Google Search, using Sign in with Google to sign into a third-party app or service or watching a YouTube video.

At this time, Kricheli’s update of the policy will not delete accounts that are connected with subscriptions, such as Google One, and accounts with YouTube videos.

Several users have brought mixed opinions to their social media platforms.

On X, formerly known as Twitter, Josh Duyan, or user @jduyan, conducted a poll with the question “Do you support Google’s recent shift in data retention, deleting inactive accounts?”

30% voted that they were in favor and 34% were against it. 25% were indifferent while 11% voted that their answer would depend on the context.

Saferty Scientist, or user @moleculardrugs, on TikTok posted a video stating that a portion of these accounts contains data of users that have passed away, and to delete these accounts would be deleting their “digital existence, from our world.”

With concern that this wipes the memory of deceased people,  he suggested in his comment section that Google should provide an option “for people to #Immortalize digital accounts or create a Digital Legacy to preserve their memory!”

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