Twitter put the brakes on a recent plan to release inactive accounts after users complained of a lapse in judgement on the company’s part: they forgot about dead people.
The problem Twitter wanted to address is real – desirable handles are often held hostage by users who no longer tweet. However, the criteria the company was using to free accounts did not take the accounts of deceased people into consideration.
Twitter spokesperson Lindsay McCallum stated,
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.
The original plan involved sending an email to users of accounts that had been inactive for at least six months, asking them to sign into their accounts by December 11 to avoid having them be deleted. Concerned users were quick to point out that Twitter has no way of memorializing accounts that belong to those to have passed away.
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
Currently Twitter only allows accounts of the deceased to be deleted, unlike Facebook, which allows accounts to remain as memorial pages. Twitter is currently working on a solution to memorialize accounts, after which they will move forward with the planned account deletion.