Twitter puts inactive users on a deadline to save their accounts

27 Nov 2019

Image: © Korn V/

Twitter users who have not logged in for more than six months will need to do so by 11 December or risk deletion.

Twitter’s inactive users have begun receiving emails with a subject line warning that they could lose access to their account username.

“To continue using Twitter, you’ll need to agree to the current Terms, Privacy Policy and Cookie Use. This not only lets you make the best decisions about the information that you share with us, it also allows you to keep using your Twitter account,” the email explains.

“But first, you need to log in and follow the on-screen prompts before Dec 11 2019, otherwise your account will be removed from Twitter.”

This email is being sent to accounts that have not logged into the social media platform in more than six months. If these users do not sign into Twitter by 11 December, their accounts will become part of a removal process expected to take some months to complete.

Inactive accounts are not part of Twitter’s key metrics in reporting to shareholders, which focus on daily active users, but the login deadline will help the platform to clear out these disengaged accounts and free up unique usernames.

“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,” a spokesperson told The Verge, citing the company’s inactive account policy.

All users need to do keep their account is to sign in, so if you continue to spy silent accounts after this time, the user could still be active in the background.

Dead accounts

While many users have welcomed the prospect of coveted usernames from inactive accounts becoming available, the move by Twitter does present some challenges.

For example, The Verge raised the issue of accounts that were created by users who have since died, to which Twitter responded: “We do not currently have a way to memorialise someone’s Twitter account once they have passed on, but the team is thinking about ways to do this.”

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, allows accounts from deceased users to continue under the management of another user in memoriam. Current Facebook users can even select a legacy contact to manage their account in the event of their death.

This feature has posed its own unique challenges for Facebook, which has had to improve its algorithms in order to prevent these memorial accounts from appearances in timelines or other automated content that may cause distress or offence.

Mistaken identity risks

Following the 11 December deadline, it’s not clear when usernames from closed accounts may become available for use again, but anyone opting to take advantage of this opportunity should account for the possibility of mistaken identity.

In 2013, when Yahoo began to ‘recycle’ inactive email addresses and distribute them to those who wanted to put them to use, this resulted in emails for the old users being directed to the new address-holders. This included messages reported to contain personally identifiable information, which can pose a security risk for online users.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.