Twitter prepares to roll out age-gating tool

28 November, 2013

Twitter claims it has improved its age-gating system in a bid to help a wider range of drinks suppliers stop underage users receiving alerts about alcohol.

Free age-gating systems have been in place for the past couple of years on the social media site, but they are only available to a select number of brands that spend money to advertise with Twitter.

But it is now in the process of rolling out the tool to the wider trade. An administrator of an alcohol brand's account will be able to call an access team or visit a help page and join the list of brands that are using the system, including Heineken, Bacardi and Jim Beam.

Twitter said: “To set up this new form of age-screening, clients with account support can contact their teams directly; those with self-serve accounts can request access here.”

It added: “Our hope is that this approach to age-screening will enable alcohol brands to responsibly and safely connect with the right audience,” said Twitter in a blog post.

“Alcohol brands can safely grow their of-age network of Twitter followers in a way that’s simpler than before.”

However the biggest criticism the site has received is that underage users can easily bypass the system by entering a false date of birth.

Users that try to follow an alcohol producer are immediately send a direct message asking them to confirm their age within 24 hours by entering a date of birth.

Once a user is age-checked, they will not have to repeat the process with other brands. This system allows alcohol companies to target Twitter users with marketing, Twitter will simply trust the user to enter a correct date of birth and will not use a third-party verification system to find out if the user is telling the truth.

It has done nothing to address this concern, leaving critics like Southampton University liver specialist Dr Nick Sheron and Alcohol Concern youth policy manager Tom Smith attacking the system for being completely ineffective.

But Ian Twinn, director of public affairs at advertisers’ group ISBA, said: “Twitter has gone a long way to address concerns from advertisers that the level of age-gated protection afforded to visitors on their own websites was not matched by Twitter.

“The new system was announced in the US, and ISBA will be canvassing members’ views on its progress.”

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