Twitter Halts Plans To Purge Inactive Accounts Over Concerns For The Dead

Twitter said Wednesday it would pause its plans to purge inactive accounts on the social network after many worried that dead users’ histories would be deleted en masse.

“We’ve heard you on the impact that this would have on the accounts of the deceased,” Twitter wrote on Wednesday, saying it apologized for the “confusion and concern” the news set off. “This was a miss on our part. We will not be removing any inactive accounts until we create a new way for people to memorialize accounts.” 

The tech giant said earlier this week it would mass-delete accounts that hadn’t signed in for more than six months, allowing those usernames to be up for grabs once more. Twitter began sending out emails warning owners of the inactive accounts to sign in by Dec. 11 or risk losing their account history and handles.

“As part of our commitment to serve the public conversation, we’re working to clean up inactive accounts to present more accurate, credible information people can trust across Twitter. Part of this effort is encouraging people to actively log-in and use Twitter when they register an account, as stated in our inactive accounts policy,” a company spokesperson told The Verge, which first reported the news on Tuesday.

Twitter did say Wednesday that some eventual removal would focus on the European Union when it went forward to comply with privacy regulations.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter doesn’t have any system for memorializing the accounts of dead users. Facebook allows deceased users’ profiles to live on as “Remembering” pages, which allow friends to share memories of the person on their timeline.

Twitter said it would work to figure out how to memorialize timelines on the network.

“We do not currently have a way to memorialize someone’s Twitter account once they have passed on, but the team is thinking about ways to do this,” a spokesperson told The Verge earlier this week.

The social network did note, however, that it would consider upping the enforcement of its inactive user policy.

“We may broaden the enforcement of our inactivity policy in the future to comply with other regulations around the world and to ensure the integrity of the service,” Twitter said. “We will communicate with all of you if we do.”

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