Elon Musk announced a plan on Monday to purge all old Twitter accounts that haven’t seen any activity in years. It’s a move to clear out old accounts, but some users on social media have expressed their concerns. What happens to the accounts of people who’ve died?
“We’re purging accounts that have had no activity at all for several years, so you will probably see follower count drop,” Musk tweeted on Monday.
There was some backlash after the announcement. QZ reporter Scott Nover pointing out that many social media sites are “effectively digital graveyards,” noting that deleting the accounts of loved ones was “akin to removing a headstone.”
Musk has made a number of changes to Twitter since he bought the platform in October 2022, including a new blue checkmark program that forces users to pay $8 per month for “verficiation,” despite the fact that no actually ID verification is taking place. Musk decided that he would give the blue checkmarks to people who had over one million followers to compensate for those refusing to pay. Blue checkmarks were given to many dead celebrities, such as Anthony Bourdain’s account, Kobe Bryant’s and Chadwick Bouseman.
Twitter announced the exact same plan in 2019 to release usernames, but it was met by exactly the same objections as today. Twitter eventually decided to keep the accounts that belonged to dead users intact, something which no doubt provided comfort to those who were close to a deceased loved one.
Andrew Tate, a right-wing influencer, tweeted at Musk that he supported the idea of freeing up user names but that he didn’t want to see the account of his dead father disappear.
“Very good idea. Although my father has passed, I continue to read his blog daily. Please keep him active,” Tate tweeted on Monday.
Musk’s history is one of making dramatic announcements and then reversing course when people who he admire provide feedback. With any luck, Tate’s message has gotten through to the Twitter CEO.
Musk’s automated Twitter response sent to all journalists on Monday was a poop emoticon. I’ll update this post if I hear back with anything resembling a real answer.