Google’ s decision to delete inactive accounts has caused alarm about what may happen to the content associated with those accounts. According to the big search engine’s decision, all accounts that have had no activity in the last two years will be deleted in an attempt to prevent security threats or any type of cyber attack.
It is not only about deleting e-mail accounts, but also the information stored in associated platforms such as Google Docs, Drive or Google Photos.
The news raised questions about what will happen to historical YouTube videos belonging to accounts associated with inactive Gmail addresses. While YouTube was another platform on which information associated with Gmail accounts was to be deleted, the company backed down. A Google spokesperson confirmed that accounts with videos posted on YouTube will not be deleted, nor will those videos. Google’s original post informing about the decision was corrected to leave out the popular video platform.
What is the reason for Google’s decision to delete inactive accounts?
The main reason Google is making this decision is for security and to avoid phishing scams or spam submissions. Basically, accounts that have not been used in the last two years have fewer security controls. According to Google’s statement, these are accounts that have not enabled two-factor authentication, which makes them more vulnerable. They also use old or reused passwords that may be compromised and have no security controls on the user’s side.
Inactive accounts, being more vulnerable, are easily accessible for use by cybercriminals. According to the company, abandoned accounts are 10 times less likely than active accounts to have two-step verification set up, so they can be used for anything from phishing to spreading unwanted or malicious content.
Inactive accounts will begin to be phased out in December 2023, but the phase-out will be progressive. First of all, accounts that were created and never used will be deleted. Google will send prior notifications before complete removal.
What content associated with inactive Google accounts will be removed and how can it be avoided?
Google accounts are used for many things so this decision affects content published and found on different platforms. In fact, this is why the removal of content from YouTube was reversed. Had it gone ahead, many videos would have been deleted as they were associated with the accounts of deceased account holders or those who had lost access to their account.
The content that will be deleted will be Google Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar and Google Photos that is associated with inactive Gmail accounts. The exception will be in the case of accounts of organizations such as companies or schools, since it is understood that they pay some kind of subscription to Google.
To avoid the closure of accounts and associated content, users must generate some kind of activity on Google: sign in to email, send emails, upload files or documents to Drive or Google Photos, download apps from Google Play or watch YouTube videos.