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Twitter postpones account purge


Twitter postpones account purge

Less than 24 hours after announcing plans for a mass purge of the site, microblogging site Twitter has revealed that it will pause its actions following public backlash.

Twitter stated that it will be deleting all accounts that it considered to be inactive. The reason behind this purge was not only to clear out a load of old accounts on the site that no one is using anymore, but also to free up usernames that other active tweeters may be interested in obtaining.

The company explained that an inactive account is one that has not been logged into for at least six months, so if the account has been logged into at some point in this timeframe but is not engaging with anything on the site, or actively tweeting, then it is still considered active. Its policy regarding inactive accounts can be seen here.

The Twitter purge was reported by David Lee of the BBC, who stated that the account cull was scheduled to take place on December 11. However, this will no longer be the case. The company had planned to start its mass deletions within the EU, so it could comply with GDPR. It would have been the first time that the company has conducted a purge of accounts with data privacy in mind, as old accounts would not have agreed to the site’s updated policies.

Twitter had been sending out emails to the owners of current inactive accounts to notify them of the site’s intentions and inform them that their account was at risk of deletion. This was to give these account holders the opportunity to save their account by logging in and reactivating it.

Those that were most likely to be affected by this purge were those who had lost their login credentials and those who no longer use their accounts but have yet to delete them. It will also include the accounts of those who have died, although Twitter does have a policy for claiming and accessing these accounts.

However, it is the latter of these targeted groups that have caused the postponement, following an outcry from users. Twitter has now admitted that it had not taken into account the potential for upset at removing the accounts of the deceased. Many users do not have access to the accounts of loved ones and often still view them as a memorial.

Other social sites, such has Facebook, have policies in place for what to do with accounts of users who had died. Twitter has now stated that it would look into creating a similar memorialisation feature. It stated that it would broaden the enforcement of its inactivity policy to ensure the service’s integrity, while still complying with GDPR.

No timeframe has been put on the length of this postponement. This can be seen as a lesson to businesses that while it is still important to monitor the data it holds on customers, and to comply with data privacy regulations and GDPR, data still needs to be handled in a sensitive manner.

Alan Littler

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