In the formative years of the web companies, like AOL and MySpace, were enabling users to connect, collaborate, and get creative. When Facebook and YouTube stepped into the spotlight, these early social media pioneers were left standing in the dust.
Many users didn’t close their MySpace account; they simply opened a Facebook account and never logged back in to MySpace. What happens to inactive accounts? Is your information still secure? Google recently introduced a new ‘Inactive Account Manager’ that helps you control what happens if you stop using your account.
I recently attempted to login to my old accounts. For anyone who’s tried to retrieve a password before, you know this can be an irritating process. When I was finally able to log in, I found that, due to inactivity, all of the old content had been deleted. While this makes sense from a business standpoint, it’s extremely frustrating as a user.
Google’s new account manager allows you control what happens to your information if your account reaches an ‘inactive’ status. You can select to have Google manage your content after 3, 6, 9, or 12 months of inactivity. Inactivity is determined by the duration of time between logins.
According to Google’s blog, each user can “choose to have your data deleted [once your selected inactive period has passed]… or you can select trusted contacts to receive data from some or all of the following services: +1s; Blogger; Contacts and Circles; Drive; Gmail; Google+ Profiles, Pages and Streams; Picasa Web Albums; Google Voice and YouTube.”
This policy allows you to decide what happens to your secure information once you no longer access your account. Before taking action Google will send a text and an email to your phone and alternate email address on file. If no response is received, your account will be deleted or information forwarded per your instructions.
Google continues to set trends and change the mobile world as we know it. Other developers have considered this issue as well, and external services for Twitter and Facebook allow you to send tweets and status updates from beyond the grave as well as give account access to select individuals.
These services have yet to implement company policies like the one Google has, but I doubt it will take too long before most social media services standardize this practice.