Google, on November 10, issued a three-week warning to the users of Gmail accounts about a clean-up exercise that could see their mails, documents, photos and videos permanently deleted.
Google while issuing the warning to users said in a statement that it will delete millions of Gmail accounts in December, unless the users (re)activate them.
The company also said that this is one of the parts of a major update to the platform.
“The purge will impact all personal Google accounts that have been left dormant for at least two years, with emails, documents, spreadsheets, calendar appointments, photos and videos all permanently deleted,” the statement read.
According to Google, the policy had been introduced earlier this year but it will come into effect in December 2023.
“We are updating our inactivity policy for Google Accounts to two years across our products,” Google’s vice president of product management, Ruth Kricheli, had written in a blog post earlier in May 2023.
“This update aligns our policy with industry standards around retention and account deletion and also limits the amount of time Google retains your unused personal information.”
The company added that it is taking this step so as to protect active Google users from security threats such as phishing scams and account hijacking.
According to Google, old Gmail accounts that have not been used for a number of years typically stand the risk of being hacked.
It said this is because they may use the same passwords that have been compromised in other security breaches, which could be easily found on the dark web.
“Any account at risk of deletion will receive multiple notifications before any action is taken,” Google said while including any associated recovery email addresses.
“We have already begun sending emails to those affected, telling users it is “to protect your private information and prevent any unauthorised access to your account even if you’re no longer using our services,” the tech giant stated.
“Losing access to a Gmail account could also potentially prevent people from using other online platforms and services that are associated with that email address, even if they are not related to Google.
“In order to keep an account active and avoid being deleted, Google users are advised to open or send an email, use Google Drive, download an app on the Google Play Store, or simply make a Google Search while logged in to the account.”
The tech giant, however, said that any Gmail account that has posted a video to YouTube does not stand the risk of being deleted regardless of when it was last active.