On May 16, Google announced it would soon begin deleting Google accounts that have been inactive for at least two years. Immediately, that made some people worry about what would happen to inactive YouTube accounts, particularly those of deceased creators. Google owns YouTube, and users manage things like Gmail, YouTube and Google Drive through a single account.
“This is Google telling every YouTuber ‘We WILL delete your legacy after you die,’” one tweet viewed 1.6 million times said. Another tweet, viewed 500,000 times, declared Google’s new deletion policy would include YouTube videos.
Is Google deleting YouTube videos from inactive accounts?
No, Google is not deleting YouTube videos from inactive accounts.
WHAT WE FOUND
Google is specifically excluding accounts with YouTube videos from its new policy of deleting inactive accounts.
“We do not have plans to delete accounts with YouTube videos at this time,” Google said in a recent blog post announcing its new inactive account policy.
Google added this sentence in an updated version of the blog post; the original post, archived in the Wayback Machine, did not clarify what would happen to accounts with YouTube videos. Instead, the original blog post only said that Google may delete accounts inactive for two years and the content of those accounts, “including content within Google Workspace (Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar), YouTube and Google Photos.”
The updated blog post removed “YouTube” from that sentence.
Rene Ritchie, YouTube’s official “creator liaison,” a position that serves as a bridge between YouTube and its video creators, also said YouTube would not delete inactive creator accounts.
“Confirming we have no plans to delete accounts with YT videos!” Ritchie said in a tweet.
Google is, however, deleting other inactive accounts. Its blog post explained that it will delete Google accounts that have been inactive for at least two years beginning December 2023. The company says users who have logged into their Google account, used their account to log into a third-party application or have logged into one of Google's services, like YouTube, are considered active. Users will be sent warning emails to both the account’s email and its recovery email before their accounts are deleted.
A Google Help Center page explains that other inactive accounts that will be excluded from the new policy include Google accounts that have made purchases or have ongoing subscriptions, accounts that own apps with financial transactions and accounts that manage active minor accounts.