Twitter puts restraints on plans to delete inactive accounts after user complaints

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Twitter has followed up with further information about its plans to remove inactive accounts from the platform, in a bid to ‘free up’ user handles. An important point was not made clear when the announcement was made on 26 November. What will happen to accounts of people who have passed away? The lack of apparent consideration for deceased tweeters from Twitter, saw a global outcry from Twitter users, which has led to Twitter’s most recent re-considerations. 

Twitter has realised that it is unacceptable to simply delete accounts of people who have died without any form of action to memorialise them. 

This update came only days after Twitter warned users who have not logged into their accounts for six months or more could find their profiles deleted by 11 December. It’s now understood that the deadline will shift. 

Twitter has been an active social media platform for more than 13 years. In order to free up user names of inactive users, the company took the decision to put plans in place to remove inactive accounts. Twitter says: "Part of this effort is to encourage people to actively log in.”

Following mass protest from active Twitter users, Twitter is reconsidering part of its deletion plan, which was scheduled to start next month. 

Twitter said in a statement: "We have heard from users about the impact this would have on the accounts of the deceased, it was a true failure on our part. 

"We apologise for the confusion and will keep you informed." 

The company has now said it plans to introduce a ‘new way’ for its users to ‘memorise’ accounts for deceased users. There is no intention to begin deleting inactive accounts before the introduction of this new ‘memory’ feature. 

The social network claimed to have taken such action on inactive accounts due to regulatory concerns.

Once the new feature  is fully developed complete, account deactivations in the European Union will be the first to go, in order to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Twitter account holder, but don’t tweet?

If you're a Twitter user but you prefer to read other people’s tweets rather than actively write your own, there is no need to worry. This deletion process will not affect those who actively login and spend time on Twitter, regardless as to whether they are tweeting or not. Twitter defines logging is an ‘active’ use of Twitter and recognises that 'not all signs of account activity are publicly visible' - according to the policy guidelines described on its website.

Twitter ended its statement by saying: "Beyond complying with GDPR, we can expand the application of our inactivity policy in the future to comply with other regulations around the world and ensure service integrity. We will communicate with everyone if further changes are to be made.”

It's not clear exactly when the account deletion process will begin or how many users will be affected. The company claims to have located ‘numerous accounts’ that don't meet the baseline requirements, although no official estimated figures have been released. What is clear, the inactive account deletion process will take a significant amount of time to complete, it most definitely will not be a single sweeping action. 

When Twitter does eventually get around to enforcing the inactivity policy, it's likely a number of usernames will free up as a result of inactive accounts being removed. This is one of potential positives to be found from this change, though it is also expected that follower numbers will drop as dormant accounts begin to disappear.  

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