Twitter has begun asking users who try to follow alcohol brands for their date of birth in order to check they are above the legal minimum drinking age
Twitter has introduced age-verification for users who want to follow accounts run by alcohol brands.
Users who attempt to follow an alcohol producer are immediately send a direct message: “Thank you for following @budlight. Please confirm your age at [link removed] within 24 hours to continue following us.”
The link in the message takes the user to an authentication page on Twitter, where they are asked: “Hello @Sparkes. This account is restricted only to users of a certain age as determined by @budlight. Please supply your date of birth to continue following @budlight.”
If you enter an age which is above the legal minimum drinking in your country you are then allowed to continue following the account, but that is currently the extent of the checks. Anyone who admits to being underage has their follow request denied. The smallprint on the page suggests that in future it could draw on information from other websites, potentially including other social networks such as Facebook, to find your true age:
“Because this account includes content that is only appropriate for users of a certain age, we require you to verify your age before accessing this account. In order to perform this function we may use third-party service providers to collect your information, including your birthdate,” it says.
In a blog post Twitter said: “One of the biggest challenges for alcohol brands is how they connect with an age-appropriate audience. To address this on Twitter, we’re rolling out an improvement to the age-screening experience on Twitter.com, iOS, and Android devices. Starting today, alcohol brands can safely grow their of-age network of Twitter followers in a way that’s simpler than before.”
“Our hope is that this approach to age-screening will enable alcohol brands to responsibly and safely connect with the right audience on Twitter.”
In a support page, the company points out that it is ultimately down to the account owner to verify that users are of-age.
“Although Twitter will be working with brands interested in age screening users, compliance with specific industry guidelines around age screening and age-based targeting is, as always, the responsibility of the brand.
“If a brand becomes aware that you’ve entered incorrect information to bypass their age screen, they can block you, which permanently bans you from following the account,” it says.
The company has launched the new checks with companies including Bud Light, Jim Beam, Knob Creek, Heineken and Bacardi.
A report last year from the University of Plymouth warned that the internet is allowing an increasing number of underage drinkers in Britain to buy alcohol without adequate identification checks.
Online retailers were now a “key potential source” of alcohol for underage drinkers, as it presented many with an opportunity to “circumvent the stricter alcohol policies now in place in many high street retailers”, it said.