Google’s new ‘inactive account’ policy won’t delete years of YouTube videos – Ars Technica
Google’s new policy on inactive accounts already has people up in arms. The company announced on Tuesday that accounts that have been unused for two years will be deleted, and many people ask what this means for YouTube content. There are probably millions of videos out there from dead and inactive YouTube creators – would Google’s new data policy mean the deletion of nearly two decades of online history?
Google’s blog post yesterday certainly gave that impression: “If a Google Account has not been used or logged in for at least 2 years, we may delete the account and its content – including Google Workspace content (Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar) , YouTube and Google Photos.” This policy would mean wiping out things like the first YouTube video, official YouTube accounts of former US presidents, and tons of content from retired YouTubers and music artists. That would be terrible.
A day later, Google now says there will be no digital burning of Alexandria. YouTube’s creator liaison, Rene Ritchie, clarified on Twitter that Google has “no plans to delete accounts with YT videos”. 9to5Google heard the same statement from a Google spokesperson. That’s good news, but it’s also very vague and goes against what all of Google’s current documentation says, including the blog post. Can people keep a Google account alive forever with a single video? We’ve been emailing Google since Tuesday night asking for some sort of formal policy regarding YouTube videos, but we haven’t heard anything yet. It seems the company is still figuring this out.
It doesn’t make sense to delete old YouTube content, by the way. While inactive data for things like Gmail and Google Photos is nothing but a money pit, YouTube content is available to the public and Google runs ads on those videos, so those videos make money. If there is no creator to share revenue with, even better! Removing old videos would not only hurt YouTube as a platform, it would also hurt Google’s bottom line.
We’ll update this story if Google publishes a formal YouTube policy. Still, the inactive account policy doesn’t kick in until December 2023, so Google still has some time to figure this out.