The deletion of accounts to start from December this year and will affect only personal accounts. Google has described this move as an important one security wise.
Several days ago, Elon Musk, the then CEO of Twitter, announced through tweets that the company will start deleting Twitter accounts which haven’t seen any activity from several years.
When reminded about how doing so might also delete some historic tweets, Musk said that the accounts will be archived.
The idea behind deleting inactive accounts on Twitter, as per him, is for freeing up of account usernames of inactive accounts, if one can understand his tweet correctly.
It looks like another big company is joining the inactive account deletion race. The reason given behind it is entirely different, though.
Google To Start Deleting Inactive Accounts
Google has made an announcement in the Safety and Security section of Google’s official blog. Ruth Kricheli, the Vice-President of Product Management at Google, has announced important changes to how Google intends to deal with inactive accounts.
The blog post explains that Google does whatever it can to prevent users from being hacked. This includes preventing spam, phishing and account hijacking. However, despite all the efforts, it’s the inactive accounts which are more likely to be compromised.
The reason it explains is that the inactive accounts are more likely to use outdated, reused and sometimes hacked passwords. Additionally, Google’s own internal analysis shows that compared to active accounts these inactive accounts are 10 times more likely to not have 2-factor-authentication enabled in them.
Google explains that all this can lead to inactive accounts being hacked, used for identity theft and even for spreading spam. This is why Google has announced that it will start deleting accounts which are inactive for 2 years.
2 Years Of Inactivity Explained
Google says that starting December this year, it will start deleting accounts which have not been signed in to for 2 years. The deletion of accounts includes the account itself and its contents.
The contents include things from Google Workspace, which comprises Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet and Calendar. Additionally, contents from even YouTube and Google Photos will be deleted. So basically everything important.
It says that this policy will only affect personal Google accounts and won’t affect business or school ones. Google says that this deletion will happen slowly. Also, users will be given a lot of notices before their accounts get deleted.
To explain it further, it has given three important points:
- While the policy takes effect today, it will not immediately impact users with an inactive account — the earliest we will begin deleting accounts is December 2023.
- We will take a phased approach, starting with accounts that were created and never used again.
- Before deleting an account, we will send multiple notifications over the months leading up to deletion, to both the account email address and the recovery email (if one has been provided).
Preventing Account Deletion
Google says that keeping one’s account active is simple. Just signing in to the Google account using any Google services through the account will be enough to consider it active.
It says that signing in to the account or using any of these services using that account will be enough:
- Reading or sending an email
- Using Google Drive
- Watching a YouTube video
- Downloading an app on the Google Play Store
- Using Google Search
- Using Sign in with Google to sign in to a third-party app or service
Even having a subscription to Google One, any news publication or any app will be considered as an account active.
It has even shared an animated image to show how signing in to an account will make it active again.
Additionally, it states that in order to prevent one’s photos to be deleted from Google Photos, one needs to sign in into it within every two years too.
To conclude the blog post, Google insists users to have a backup to their Google account. Suggesting things like making sure recovery email is added to the account and is up-to-date, among other things.
We personally think this move from Google is not a wrong one when looked from a security point of view. What Google is saying is true, inactive accounts do pose a security threat when compromised. Not only to the user themselves, but also to other people out there. It also makes Google answerable about what it has doing to prevent that.
The problem happens when Google says everything, from videos on YouTube, to photos on Google Photos, to emails on Gmail, to files on Docs and Drive, to contacts on Meet and Calendar, will be deleted if the account is inactive. That’s too harsh.
However, Google does say that one sign-in is all that is required to prevent that. Also, it will do the deletion only after a lot of prior notifications to the users and that too in a phased manner.
So get going, everyone. Sign-in into those Google accounts which are inactive. But do make sure they are important enough to keep them in the first place.
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