Google, which hosts billions of user accounts, said on Tuesday that it plans to delete accounts that have remained inactive for two years. The decision is part of the internet giant’s ongoing efforts to strengthen security measures for its vast user base, the company said.
Starting in December this year, Google may delete an account if it has not accessed any of its variety of services for two years, the company wrote in a blog post. As part of the account deletion, Google will also remove content the user has stored in Google Workspace, YouTube and Google Photos.
Google said that it will send “multiple notifications” over the months leading up to deletion of an account and start the purge with those that were created and never used again. The new inactivity policy also will not affect business accounts and those used by schools, Google said.
The criteria for maintaining an active account are quite minimal. Activities such as reading or sending an email, using Google Drive, watching a YouTube video, downloading an app from the Google Play Store, signing in to a third-party app or service with a Google account or conducting a Google search while signed in will all suffice to keep an account active.
Google is taking this step to assuage security concerns that arise due to dormant accounts, it said. “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,” the company wrote in the blog post.
Google did not say what it plans to do with the usernames after deleting the dormant accounts. The company’s move follows Twitter chief executive Elon Musk recently announcing plans to purge dormant accounts and recycling the usernames.