Google updated its policy on inactive accounts on Tuesday, declaring that any account that has not been active in two years will be deleted. The people of the internet quickly pushed back: What about old YouTube accounts?
There’s a trove of internet history lying in dusty corners of YouTube, not to mention the accounts of users who have since died, whose loved ones would probably prefer to have access to their digital archives. Though Google will still delete other old accounts, the YouTube owner updated its new policy so that it will no longer be deleting YouTube videos from the platform.
To be precise, Google updated the post to read, “We do not have plans to delete accounts with YouTube videos at this time.”
Google’s reasoning for enacting this new inactive account policy is to cut down on fraud. The company argues that these log-ins are easier to crack.
“Our internal analysis shows abandoned accounts are at least 10x less likely than active accounts to have 2-step-verification set up,” Google wrote in its announcement. “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.”
Of course, Google would also save on server costs by deleting some old uploads. But for content within the Google Workspace (Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar) and Google Photos, the deletion process will not begin until December 2023. The process will be phased, starting with accounts that were deleted and never used again. So, users with old accounts have plenty of time to log in and make sure they can keep their stuff. Google said that activity can refer to something as simple as using Google to log into another app. Before deleting an account, Google will send the user multiple notifications, including to its recovery address.
It comes as a relief to many internet fanatics that YouTube videos will remain untouched, but Google contains so much of people’s memories, from Google Drive to Photos, that some digital artifacts will be lost. Meanwhile, on Twitter, owner Elon Musk also recently announced plans to purge dormant accounts. These potentially changing policies across tech companies serve as a valuable reminder: Back up your meaningful data.