Following online criticisms, tech giant Google has backpedaled its recent policy regarding inactive Google accounts. In its latest update, it has now stated that it will not delete Google accounts with YouTube channels with video uploads in it.
- Dubbed the "Great Google Account Purge" by Ars Technica, Google aims at deleting inactive accounts by December of this year.
- Affected services by the 'account purges' include content within Google Workspace (Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar) and Google Photos.
- According to Google, the 'purges' will be done in stages: starting off with those accounts that were created and never used again. Moreover, the company will be sending out multiple notifications over the months leading up to deletion, to both the account email address and the recovery email (if one has been provided).
- To prevent the account being deleted, Google encourages its users sign-in at least once every 2 years.
Initially, the policy announcement included inactivity on an account's YouTube channel. However, this was backpedaled a few hours ago.
It is also worth noting that the large majority of accounts which will be affected are those personal accounts (i.e., using the @gmail.com domain for email addresses). Accounts from those handled by a company or organization and subscribed to Google Workspace for Business will be spared.
Why Does This Matter?
A key reason why Google is beginning its crackdown on inactive accounts is due to its cloud storage service losing money per quarter, as well as a way to crack down on bad actors generating multiple Google accounts for fraudulent activities.
- A Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing (PDF) by Google said that its cloud service lost US$2.97 billion for the fourth quarter of 2022. This is despite the fact that Google invested US$9.5 billion to create more data centers in the United States in response to the growing number of accounts and enterprises relying on their service.
- Google has long dealt with bad actors using their services illegally and being exploited for scams. A 2019 report by ZDNet reveals that fraudsters have exploited a Gmail feature that allows scammers to use different variations of an email while ignoring the dot characters inside Gmail usernames.
- As Google continues to expand its cloud storage service, Google's services have been prone to vulnerabilities. From 1 million accounts being victim of a phishing attack in 2017 to 4.93 million accounts leaked to a Bitcoin forum in 2019, all of these add up to Google's woes in maintaining plenty of accounts in their system, whose security measures aren't up to date.
Important Note for VTubers
With the announcement initially including YouTube as one of the services being affected, there is initial fear and frustration evident from the community, as those accounts from graduated to inactive VTubers could be on the verge of getting deleted.
- While Google has stated explicitly that they don't have plans to delete accounts with YouTube videos on them, there is still unclear motive as to what happens when the two-year lapse occurs, especially for those accounts handled by smaller and indie VTubers. Large agencies, such as Hololive and Nijisanji, may have the capability to archive the videos in their own way.
- However, the deletion of inactive accounts could pose a benefit from the community, especially targeting troll accounts who will be using their temporary accounts to attack or troll a streamer. For instance, the popular YouTuber and streamer IShowSpeed had to end a stream after being subjected to a hate donation wave, which included racist remarks. Similarly, the indie VTuber Sinder had to manually review comments on her metal cover of CPR after receiving a wave of hateful comments.
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