Twitter blocks users who were underage at registration, blames GDPR

Twitter is suspending the accounts of some users, following the introduction of new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws in the EU, as reported by Vice.

Specifically, the social network has disabled the accounts of those individuals who it believes were under the age of 13 when they first signed up to use the site.

The interesting part is, Twitter has always asked users to confirm they’re over the age of 13, the minimum age at which a child can give consent for a company to use their personal data, as laid out by GDPR. So you’d be forgiven for wondering how it deduced which users were telling the truth and which were not.

The answer is that although Twitter only asks for confirmation that a user is old enough (and doesn’t require a date of birth), in many cases users add a birthdate at a later time. If this information revealed that the user was underage at the time of registration, those individuals have found their accounts have been disabled.

This action has understandably left swathes of users frustrated, not least because there does not currently appear to be any way to reactivate a disabled account. What’s more, there have even been cases where the social network has closed business accounts, if the date of birth suggested the user might have been underage.

Rob Ford, founder of UK business FWA, told VentureBeat for example, that Twitter emailed him to notify him that his account had been disabled because he changed its date of birth to the “birthday” of the company – the year 2000.

Twitter claims it took this drastic action because it has no way of separating data created before the age of 13 and after. The company has not yet provided any official statement, but affected users are advised to set up a new account – which isn’t much comfort to those who have lost thousands of followers in the process.

Mike PalmerComment