Twitter Delays Plan To Remove Inactive Accounts

Topline: Twitter has delayed a plan to delete inactive accounts because it did not anticipate how it would impact accounts belonging to people who have died, the company announced Wednesday, saying it would only delete unused accounts after it introduces a way to memorialize deceased users.

  • On Tuesday, Twitter said it would start deleting all accounts that haven’t been used in six months in an effort to free up usernames and “present more accurate, credible information” about users.
  • Some quickly pointed out that it would remove tweets from those who have died and from those who want to remember them. The sister of deceased comedian Harris Wittels signed on to his account and tweeted, “Twitter is going to start deleting inactive accounts in December, and it would be a goddamn tragedy if this account got sucked into oblivion. So I’m tweeting to ensure that doesn’t happen.”
  • After the uproar, Twitter said it would not remove any inactive account until it creates a way for users to memorialize users who have died. 
  • The only exception will be for users in the European Union because Twitter has to comply with GDPR, a sweeping privacy law governing the region. 

Crucial quote: “We’ve heard you on the impact that this would have on the accounts of the deceased. This was a miss on our part,” a Twitter spokesperson tweeted.

Key background: Facebook has a feature that allows users to designate friends or family to be in charge of an account after they have died. Friends and family can officially memorialize an account too, which means that the profile stays frozen and only viewable to users who were friends with the owner. Twitter doesn’t have any similar features.

What’s next: Twitter said it may enforce the policy to comply with other regulations around the world, but promised to warn users beforehand if that happens.