Age verification on Twitter
When any Twitter user attempts to follow a brand that is only offered to consumers of a specific age, Twitter’s new “Age Screening” system will add a layer of security be requiring visitors to submit their age, disallowing anyone under the target age to follow. Developed by Twitter and Buddy Media, the screening process does not apply to users currently following age-restricted products, but will apply to any future attempts to follow brands that have signed up for age screening.
Currently, it appears that mostly alcohol companies have joined in, like Brown Forman’s Jack Daniels (@JackHoney), Jim Beam’s Skinny Girl (@SkinnygirlCKTLS), and MillerCoors’ Coors Light and Miller Lite (@CoorsLite and @MillerLite), but no mention of adult products have been made yet.
According to Buddy Media, here is how the age verification works:
1. A user clicks to follow @brand.
2. The brand automatically Direct Messages the user with a link to age.twitter.com.
3. The user visits age.twitter.com and enters their age; this information is not shared with the brand.
4. If the user meets the age threshold set by the brand, they will automatically follow the brand. If the user does not meet the age threshold the brand has set for their country, they will be unable to continue following the brand.
The company says that “Now, marketers have a preferred solution that any brand can use to get their followers to confirm their age,” adding that “This solution is also convenient for Twitter users. Once a user has supplied their age through this process, they won’t have to do so again if they want to follow other brands using this solution.”
A win for marketers, not necessarily a protection
The ultimate result is “a solution that makes marketers’ lives easier, without creating extra work for the brand or the user,” Buddy Media said.
As with all age-verification sites that simply require a user to pick a date more than 21 years ago, and presto, they’re in, be it alcohol or adult sites. While on the surface, it appears to be a move that would protect underage users from being exposed to products they are legally to young for, but Buddy Media has not hidden that along with Twitter, the agenda is to cater to brands and marketers – it has nothing to do with protecting youth.
A better solution that would still supply marketers with the deeply desired demographics that Twitter fails to provide (that Facebook does) is for users to give an age indication when signing up for the service, be it a birth day, or something less easy to randomly think up – a graduation date.
Better yet, take a page from EA and force age verification that is more difficult to fake like the one below: