Inactive Google accounts will be deleted

A week after Twitter announced it will be removing idle accounts after 30 days of inaction, Google has updated its account inactivity policy.

Updates to the Google account inactivity policy

Google says that the updated policy is effective immediately, but that it will start deleting accounts that haven’t been active for at least 2 years only later this year.

“We may delete the account and its contents – including content within Google Workspace (Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar), YouTube and Google Photos,” said Ruth Kricheli, VP, product management at Google.

This policy will only affect personal Google accounts, and won’t be applied to organizations such as schools and businesses.

Google plans to start deleting accounts in December 2023, and first on the chopping block will be accounts that have been created but have never been used.

Prior to deletion, the company will send multiple notifications to the account email and recovery email addresses.

Idle accounts are not safe

Google says that when an account has been idle for a long period of time, it’s more likely to get compromised – due to weak, reused or leaked passwords, lack of 2FA protection, and users making security checks more rarely.

“Our internal analysis shows abandoned accounts are at least 10x less likely than active accounts to have 2-step-verification set up. Meaning, these accounts are often vulnerable, and once an account is compromised, it can be used for anything from identity theft to a vector for unwanted or even malicious content, like spam,” Kricheli explained.

Do you want to keep your account and content?

To keep your personal Google account(s) active, you will need to sign in once every two years.

Google included a list of actions that it will consider as account activity:

  • 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

A paid subscription – e.g., Google One, YouTube, Google Play – will also be considered as account activity and the account will not be affected by the inactivity policy.

Additionally, users will need to specifically sign in to Google Photos if they want to prevent the deletion of their photos and other content, and will also be notified multiple times.

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