Who Gets Your Google Accounts When You Sign Out For Good?

Published On May 16, 2013 | Tech Business

Google is always coming out with interesting and often fun new features. A new feature the company released in April isn’t necessarily fun, but it does provide some protection for recently inactive – or should we say – deceased, Google users.

For those users who wonder what happens to their Gmail, Google+, YouTube or other Google account when they die, there is now a solution. The feature is called Inactive Account Manager, which allows Google users to decide what to do with their digital belongings after certain periods of time. Think of it as sort of like a will for your Google accounts.

But it isn’t only for the deceased. Living users can automatically delete all of the data from their accounts after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity. Inactive account manager allows users to set a timeout period after which their accounts would be deemed inactive and deleted, whether they are alive or living at the time.

Who Do You Trust With Your Google Accounts?

Users can also select their trusted contacts to receive some or all of their information, ranging from Google Plus, Blogger, Contacts and Circles, Google Drive, Gmail, Pages and Streams, Picasa albums, Google Voice and YouTube after the period of inactivity.

Rest assured that before Google deletes any of your data, it will notify you by sending a text message to your registered cell phone number and also an email to your secondary account. At that point, you can choose to let the account be deleted or extend your period of inactivity to keep the account alive.

Proposed Law Prompts Google Action

In January, a Nebraska senator tried to pass a new law giving surviving relatives legal rights to access the social media pages of the deceased. Currently, the only people who can access a personal social media profile are the ones who know the password to the individual’s account. Family members are not able to gain access to the accounts unless something is documented by the owner of the account. That means when users suddenly die, their social media pages will live on and people can still look at the dead person’s profile and post comments to the page.

Even more uncomfortable is the idea that someone can guess a user’s social media password and access all of their private information or even use the account to post to other users’ account to make it seem like the user is still alive, which is what happed in Nebraska, causing the senator to try and get legislation passed.

Five states currently have laws to protect the deceased’s social media accounts – Connecticut, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Indiana and Idaho – and all of them vary. Google is not the first company to try to determine your digital afterlife, but its adaptations and policies are certainly different than other known platforms with the start of Inactive Account Manager.

— By Mike Ritter

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