Twitter: We Did Not Mean to Delete the Dead

Photo: Leon Neal (Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Twitter announced that it would soon be launching a purge of inactive users to free up choice usernames for others, potentially allowing users to claim sweet handles like @badguy, @vomit, @logoff, or @gillbates. Just one problem: Twitter forgot that some of those accounts may belong to people who are dead.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Twitter Support acknowledged that this “was a miss on our part.” The company said that great inactive account purge would not be moving forward until they had created a feature to memorialize those users that have gone to that big posters’ paradise in the sky.

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Unlike competitor Facebook, Twitter currently has no way to memorialize an account belonging to a user who has died (on its website, the only option offered for an account belonging to the deceased or incapacitated is a process for an authorized family member or estate representative to request it be deactivated). So this seems more of an opportunity to introduce a new feature than a genuine screwup: You can now have your posts live on forever.

After it sets up the memorialization feature, Twitter added, the purge will start with inactive accounts in European Union as part of an effort to comply with its sweeping General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) and other privacy laws. It’s not clear when will begin purging names from elsewhere, such as the states.

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Tom McKay

"... An upperclassman who had been researching terrorist groups online." - Washington Post