What Happens to Your Gmail Account When You Die?

It’s hard enough to manage multiple social accounts from a desktop, let alone from beyond the grave.

Today, Google announced the launch of its Inactive Account Manager, a new setting that tells Google what to do with Gmail, Google+, Picassa, YouTube, and other Google accounts when users are no longer there to manage them.

Rather than asking loved ones for a death certificate, the setting is more like a timer that automatically shutters the account if it remains inactive for a period of three, six, nine, or 12 months. The system will first alert the user, then up to 10 designated loved ones, when the account is about to expire. Users can opt to have their accounts deleted or to transfer the data after the other steps have been completed.

Note that this setting requires a phone number, which is currently optional for Google accounts. While other features of the service are voluntary, the Inactive Account Manager could also serve to help Google clear away accounts that are going unused.

Image by Fotonium.

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