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31 May, 2023
2 min time to read

This is a summary of the article Your digital life isn’t as permanent as you think it is by Tate Ryan-Mosley for MIT Technology Review, with our expanded review on deletion policy of other technological services not mentioned in the original article.

People tend to be afraid of the fact that all the data in the social media they have posted themselves or tagged in is inevitably constant and would remain accessible for centuries to come. However, it is quite possible that in the not so distant future people are going to face a vice-versa of this problem: the one of losing all your data because of the deletion policy of Internet giants.

2 years, all lost

On May 16, Google announced that starting in December 2023 all personal data (such as photos, emails and docs) attached to the account and the profile itself would be deleted, if inactive for 2 years. The only exception is the accounts with the YouTube videos. This declaration and the scarce amount of time, however, pose significant questions of whether the company will delete the accounts of people in jail or suffering a medical disease and therefore unable to reach their accounts.

Will David Bowie's Twitter be deleted, if inactive?

Google, however, was not the first to clarify the policy of deletion. Twitter has made the same announcement. Elon Musk has stated in the beginning of May, that the platform will delete the dormant account, and that every profile has to be logged in every 30 days. This, however, is not currently working, because many of the existing accounts have not been activated for half of a year or more. This announcement has provoked a larger buzz, because many of the celebrities and influencers of many scales have left their accounts inactive, but they do still contain significant pieces of digital memory of their admirers, while Google data is more or less personal.

These tendencies are due to the increase of data storage costs in the past decade. What can we do to preserve the data from disappearing after our passing away, or going on a two years detox trip, etc? The decision is up to you.  

DC: We’ve made some additional research and found out the following:

  • TikTok does not delete inactive accounts. The username, however, can be reset and randomized to numeric;
  • Meta products (Facebook, Instagram) offer the ability to transform inactive account to a page of memorial and to keep all the data and memories there;
  • WhatsApp is an exception and deletes the accounts after 120 days of inactivity;
  • Telegram deletes accounts by default after 6 months of inactivity;
  • LinkedIn deletes accounts of people who are proven dead;
  • Apple, supposedly, keeps all of the accounts safe and permits the relatives of dead people to connect to the data.