Twitter first announced and then rapidly postponed a major clear-out of "inactive accounts" on its network this week, after users expressed serious concerns over what it would mean for the accounts of those who have died.
The social media network had seemed to intend the purge as a way to clear out accounts that were sitting on usernames without ever becoming active, and probably as a way to combat the ever-present population of bot accounts it hosts.
However, Twitter announced yesterday that it would be pressing pause on the initiative after hearing from so many people with concerns. This hiatus will be used to put in place a proper process to "memorialise" people's accounts when they pass away.
It also clarified some points that were unclear in its initial announcement. Apparently the EU's GDPR privacy standards were what drove the decision in the first place, meaning that the changes were only planned for the EU initially.
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
Other social media networks, including Facebook, have services in place for when someone dies, to try to ensure that their account does not simply become inactive, but rather can transition to an "in memoriam" state. In Facebook's case this freezes the account and limits how people can interact with it. It would seem that Twitter will now work to provide a similar offering.
It apologised for the concern it had caused, and acknowledged that it should have thought of this issue, and indeed communicated its plans more clearly - "this was a miss on our part".
However Twitter's statement did also confirm that similar plans, around account deactivations, would have to resume as jurisdictional regulations change and are updated around the world, so the cull will likely still go ahead at some point in the future, after people have the chance to exempt accounts from it.