Bottom line: Twitter has begun blocking accounts of users who were under the age of 13 when they signed up. The suspensions started on May 25, the same day the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) kicked into effect.
Users who were underage when they joined Twitter have begun receiving notices that their accounts have been suspended regardless of their current age.
“I received a message saying my account was now locked and would require parental consent in order to process my data, or my account will be deleted,” said one user who signed up in 2009 and is now 20.
Twitter withheld comment on the situation, but an insider told The Guardian that the company now has a policy to lock accounts established by kids retroactively. Since there is no way for Twitter to separate content that a user created before they turned 13 from later created content, the company’s only recourse to comply with GDPR is to suspend those whose birthdates place them underaged when they signed up.
"The issue stems from stronger requirements under GDPR around data protection for children."
The account deactivations appear to be a stop-gap measure until Twitter can devise a more permanent solution. In the meantime, users can reinstate their accounts by submitting some form of proof of age. However, at least one Reddit user reports that some persistence may be necessary to get an account unlocked.
So far, Twitter is the only social network that has taken such measures in response to the new European regulations. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat declined to comment on their internal policies regarding the new rules, but there have been no reports of suspensions within those circles.
This is only the first of many ripples we will see caused by the GDPR.