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Twitter vows to reinstate some accounts suspended by age restrictions

CNET logo CNET 6/13/2018 Steven Musil
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Twitter is trying to help some users reinstate accounts that were recently locked due to a collision of new EU privacy rules and the platform's own age restrictions.

Twitter's rules prohibit anyone under the age of 13 to create accounts, and changes the social media platform made in response to a recently enacted EU privacy protection law automatically began locking down accounts of by users who identified themselves as being under the age of 13 when their account was created. Problem is, some of them weren't too young anymore.

Twitter said in a series of tweets Tuesday that it was caught off-guard by the lockouts.

"We recently made product changes tied to new privacy laws (GDPR) and became aware of accounts that were set up by people when they were younger than 13," Twitter Support said. "We didn't expect this."

The General Data Protection Regulation is a sweeping law that gives residents of the European Union more control over their personal data and seeks to clarify rules and responsibilities for online services with European users. The regulation expands the scope of what companies must consider personal data, and it requires them to closely track the data they've stored on EU residents.

Because the GDPR applies to any organization that collects, processes, manages or stores the data of European citizens, it essentially sets a new global standard for data protection that applies to most major online services and businesses.

As a result of changes Twitter made to adhere to the new rules, on May 25 it started suspending accounts that were registered by users when they were under the age of 13 and sending those users explaining the move.

"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," a 20-year-old user, who had signed up for an account with a fake age before later changing it to the actual one, told the Guardian.

Twitter said Tuesday it's working on a solution that will allow those impacted users to remain on the service.

"In the meantime, we're reaching out to people impacted with options to unlock their account and continue to use Twitter," the company said in one of its tweets. "Instructions from us will come during the coming week."

Cambridge Analytica: Everything you need to know about Facebook's data mining scandal.

Protect Yourself: A guide to the different ways you can protect your privacy online.

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