In a recent development, Google has started notifying users of its impending move to delete inactive accounts as part of its new policy, first announced in May 2023. While the deletion is set to commence from December 1st, 2023, the tech giant assures users that it will be a phased approach, starting with accounts that were created and never used again. This move comes as Google aims to enhance security measures, particularly for accounts that have been dormant for an extended period.
The Countdown Begins
Users with Google accounts that have been inactive for an extended period, specifically those not accessed for the past couple of years, are at risk of deletion. Google has initiated the process by sending notifications to affected users, alerting them to the potential deletion of their accounts. The company’s inactive account policy is set to kick in, and it’s crucial for users to take action promptly to prevent any loss of data or access to their accounts.
Phased Deletion Approach
Google has opted for a phased approach, starting with accounts that were created and left unused. This strategy allows the company to prioritize accounts that are more likely to have compromised security due to outdated passwords and lack of two-factor authentication. Ruth Kricheli, Google’s VP of product management, emphasized in a blog post that forgotten or unattended accounts often pose security risks and are more susceptible to unauthorized access.
Activities to Keep Your Account Active
To avoid falling victim to the new inactive account policy, users are encouraged to log in to their Google accounts promptly. Google considers various activities as valid for keeping an account active for another two years, including:
These activities contribute to the account’s overall engagement and reduce the risk of it being deemed inactive.
Recovery Email Address: An Essential Checkpoint
Upon logging in, users should ensure that their Google accounts have an accessible recovery email address linked to them. Google has committed to sending multiple notifications to both the affected Google accounts and their associated recovery email addresses before initiating any deletion. This step ensures that users are adequately informed about the impending action and have the opportunity to safeguard their accounts.
Google Photos: A Specific Note
While logging into your Google account is generally sufficient to prevent overall deletion for two years, there’s an additional step for those who use Google Photos. Google explicitly states that it reserves the right to delete data in a product if the user is inactive in that product for at least two years. Therefore, users with content stored in Google Photos should log in to the service specifically to prevent the deletion of their precious photos and videos.
Exemptions to Deletion
It’s worth noting that not all Google accounts are subject to deletion. Accounts with active subscriptions and those containing YouTube videos will be exempt from this process. This exemption provides reassurance to content creators and users with ongoing commitments to Google’s services.
Security Motivations Behind the Policy Change
Google’s decision to implement these policies stems from a commitment to enhance security measures. Kricheli explained that old and unused accounts are more likely to be compromised due to reliance on outdated or reused passwords. Furthermore, these accounts often lack two-factor authentication and receive fewer security checks by the user. The policy change is a proactive measure to mitigate potential security risks associated with dormant accounts.
Google’s new inactive account policy underscores the importance of actively managing and securing your online presence. As the countdown to potential deletions begins, South African users are urged to sign in, engage in relevant activities, and verify their recovery email addresses to ensure the safety of their Google accounts. This move aligns with Google’s commitment to user security, emphasizing the need for proactive measures in an ever-evolving digital landscape. Take action now to safeguard your digital identity and valuable data stored in Google services.