Twitter has said it will “pause” plans to disable inactive accounts following user backlash, a day after announcing plans for a huge cull of such accounts. the social media giant had announced plans to clear out inactive accounts, and free up dormant usernames and reducing the risk of old accounts being hacked.
In a statement, Twitter said: “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. We have begun proactive outreach to many accounts who have not logged into Twitter in over six months to inform them that their accounts may be permanently removed due to prolonged inactivity.”
But the move has alarmed many for whom dormant Twitter accounts are a treasured legacy of someone who has died. Unlike Facebook, Twitter has no process for memorialising the accounts of dead users and the site initially suggested it would be unable to distinguish between a dormant account and a legacy account.
“It seems very shortsighted and not particularly considered,” said Elaine O’Neill, whose partner died in 2013. “As well as erasing history and furthering the idea that all our work in the internet age is increasingly temporal, it’s going to mean the loss of the accounts of friends, family members, partners, who we’ve loved and lost.
The social network said it now would not remove accounts until it had a process for “memorialising” dead users on the network. It admitted not having a policy in place was a “miss on our part”.
We’ve heard you on the impact that this would have on the accounts of the deceased. 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.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) November 27, 2019
The firm said it was taking action on inactive accounts due to regulatory concerns.
It said once it had a full process in place, account deactivations would occur in the EU first. This was in order, Twitter said, to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
“We apologise for the confusion and will keep you all posted,” the company said in a series of tweets posted on Wednesday.