The Industry

Twitter Is Removing Accounts of Users Who Were Younger Than 13 When They Joined

Twitter can't distinguish posts that were written before a user turned 13 from those that were written afterward.
Twitter can’t distinguish posts that were written before a user turned 13 from those that were written afterward.
JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images

Twitter is banning accounts of users whose dates of birth indicate they were under the age of 13 when they first joined the platform, Motherboard reported Wednesday.

Twitter’s policies have stated for years that users have to be at least 13 to have an account, but the implementation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) last week appears to have spurred Twitter to more stringently enforce this rule. Indeed, the GDPR also sets the minimum age of consent at 13 for use of internet services.

Twitter doesn’t require people to list their birthdates when they sign up for an account, but if someone under the age of 13 chooses to do so, then the platform reportedly requires permission from a parent. Some of these users, however, choose to add their birthdates after they’ve signed up. Twitter can’t legally host content that someone under the age of 13 posted under the GDPR, and it says it is unable to distinguish tweets that were written before someone turned 13 from those written afterward. So the platform has decided to take the blunt approach of simply deleting all the accounts owned by users who were under the age of 13 when they made them, even if the users have reached the legal age since then. These people will just have to make new accounts.

Many users have taken to Reddit to complain about being locked out of their accounts over the last few days when they attempted to change their dates of birth or were asked to add their birthdays, according to VentureBeat. It appears, however, that the Twitter account for 9-month-old Alexis Ohanian Jr., daughter of tennis legend Serena Williams and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, is still up.