Nov 27, 2023 - Technology

Why Google is deleting old accounts

In this photo illustration the Google Gmail logo seen displayed on a smartphone and in the background.

Photo Illustration: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Google will start deleting inactive Gmail accounts this week.

The big picture: The search giant is making the move in order to reduce the risk of forgotten or unattended accounts being compromised as they are often vulnerable and have fewer security checks.

  • Abandoned accounts are at least 10 times less likely than active accounts to have two-step verification set up, per Google analysis.
  • "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 said in its updated account policy.

Driving the news: Starting this Friday, Dec. 1, accounts — along with their content and data — may be deleted if they have not been used within a two-year period, Google said.

  • The policy doesn't apply to accounts set up through an employer or school.
  • Before deleting an account, Google will send notifications to both the account email address and a recovery email if one was provided, per the company.

Thought bubble, via Axios' Scott Rosenberg: "Free accounts for everyone" means that our digital landscape is littered with discarded identities that become sitting ducks for malicious actors. Now Google's trying to clean up the neighborhood.

State of play: You can keep an account active by signing in; reading or sending an email; using Google Drive; watching a YouTube video if logged in through Google; downloading an app on the Google Play Store; using Google Search; or signing in to a third-party app or service through a Google account.

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