Google has added a new way to control what happens to your account when you stop using it — most likely because you're no longer around. A new Inactive Account Manager, available in Google's settings, allows you to set a timeout period for your account. If you go three months to a year without signing in, Google will first notify a selected phone number or alternate email address. After that, it will let you add up to ten contacts, who will be notified with a custom-written email and optionally given access to data from any or all Google services. As a last step, Google can also delete your account once any contacts have been notified. [Read more on TheVerge] It's a clever idea, particularly when many are concerned about security.
But here's a crazy thought:
Do you imagine that the service began with a discussion about privacy? Or could it have been more like this: "What the heck are we going to do with all these inactive accounts? We have petabytes and exabytes of data. How will we ever clean it up?" Answer: purge old accounts when they're inactive.
But instead of saying "Use it or we'll trash it!" the product marketing team looked at it from the customer's view. "What shall we do with your data when you go 'inactive'?"
It's an idea that has gotten a lot of positive press. (Contract this with the news last month of the discontinuation of Google Reader.)