Today, Google announced it will be deleting inactive accounts in an effort to strengthen security. Beginning in December, any account which has been inactive for two years will be erased along with any stored content from Gmail, Google Drive, Meet, Google Workspace, Calendar, Google Photos, and YouTube.
Google accounts that haven’t been active in a long time are less likely to have current verification protections in place, making it easier for security breaches. In a statement released earlier today, the company said:
“Even with these protections, if an account hasn’t been used for an extended period of time, it is more likely to be compromised. This is because forgotten or unattended accounts often rely on old or re-used passwords that may have been compromised, haven’t had two-factor authentication set up, and receive fewer security checks by the user. 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.”
This only applies to personal accounts. Businesses and schools that utilize Google will not be affected, so those utilizing Google accounts should update their passwords and other security measures.
Members will receive plenty of notice to both over several months if their account is facing execution. Notices will be sent to that account’s Gmail in addition to any recovery emails listed, along with information to back up your data. Google will begin deleting accounts that were never used after being created.
To keep your account active is as simple as signing in at least once every two years. Those with existing subscriptions associated with your account also are considered active. Other types of activity include using Google Search, the Google Play Store, signing in to a third-party service via your Google account, using Google Drive, watching a YouTube video, or merely reading or sending an email.
Google Photos will be following the same security measures, so make sure to sign in to this every two years as well. Current Google One members will not be affected.
On a related note, Elon Musk tweeted earlier this month “We’re purging accounts that have had no activity at all for several years, so you will probably see follower count drop.” Doing so has been discussed for years and Twitter has a rarely followed policy already in place stating users who do not sign into their account at least once every 30 days could be permanently deleted.
Twitter’s new policy will allow approximately 1.5 billion old account names to be up for grabs again, although it is unclear if these will be available to anyone who signs up first or auctioned off to create another stream of revenue for the platform.