Monday, October 7, 2013

Microsoft also Recycles unused account names

Looks like Yahoo isn't alone in dealing with unintended consequences of reusing abandoned account names. Although it isn't said in its terms of service, Microsoft also recycles deleted account names.

In Microsoft accounts, you're required to login at least once every 270 days to keep your account active. If not, your account can be terminated and its contents deleted. And after 360 days, that account is once again up for grabs.

This is something we'll all have to deal with - unless you want future generations to create even more weird account names than they already use: just imagine a "John Smith" trying to register an account 20 years from now, probably having to become a "JohnSmith29889887234234". But in Microsoft's case, the issue is that this is something that should be clearly mentioned in its terms of service. (Google, by the way, does not reuse deleted accounts, meaning that a deleted account is locked forever).

I also wonder how these deleted account might impact other things. Lets imagine you have an Xbox account with lots of games. You die (no surprise there). After those 270 days your account gets deleted (ok, if the Xbox stays in use, it might trick it into thinking you're still active, but that's not the point here)... and probably locking out the rest of your family from the contents you had bought.

In any case, for the account recycling issue, maybe it's best for the big players to come around and figure a way to deal with these inevitable scenarios. Facebook and Yahoo proposed to create a "created date" for accounts, that would allow the systems to know if the person you're trying to reach now belongs to a newer user. I don't know if that's the best solution, but this is definitely something worth discussing... as nothing lasts forever, not even on the internet.

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