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Twitter accounts belonging to deceased will not be removed in ‘clean-up’

Twitter has said accounts belonging to the dead will not be deleted. Credit: PA

Twitter has said accounts belonging to the deceased will not be removed as part of its “clean-up” of inactive profiles until it figures out a way to memorialise these accounts.

The social network has started warning users who have been inactive on its platform for more than six months that their account risks being deleted as part of a huge “clean-up”.

Some people expressed concern about losing accounts which belonged to someone who died, including Brendan Cox, the husband of murdered MP Jo Cox.

He tweeted on Wednesday about his concern that his wife's account would be deleted.

Brendan Cox tweeted about his concern that Jo Cox's account would be deleted. Credit: PA

"Slightly worried @Twitter might delete @Jo_Cox1 account in their clean up of dormant accounts. Can anyone advise on how to stop this. There’s lots on there we want to keep as a family," he wrote.

In response, Twitter on Wednesday night said it will not be removing such accounts yet.

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“We’ve heard you on the impact that this would have on the accounts of the deceased. This was a miss on our part. We will not be removing any inactive accounts until we create a new way for people to memorialise accounts,” it said in a tweet.

Mr Cox posted in response to Twitter's decision: "Thank you @Twitter and to everyone who complained loud enough to get this changed."

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Twitter’s biggest rival, Facebook, allows family and friends of the deceased to freeze their account, so it can still be viewed and messages can be posted on their page.

Twitter said the changes will impact accounts in the EU only, for now.

The social network is reaching out to people affected, saying they have until December 11 to log on to the service in order to prevent the removal.

“We’ve always had an inactive account policy but we haven’t enforced it consistently. We’re starting with the EU in part due to local privacy regulations (eg, GDPR),” Twitter said.

“Beyond complying with GDPR, we may broaden the enforcement of our inactivity policy in the future to comply with other regulations around the world and to ensure the integrity of the service. We will communicate with all of you if we do.”

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According to emails received by inactive account holders obtained by the BBC, Twitter’s effort is about ensuring users agree to their updated terms and privacy policies.

“As part of our commitment to serve the public conversation, we’re working to clean up inactive accounts to present more accurate, credible information people can trust across Twitter,” a spokesman for the social media platform said.

“Part of this effort is encouraging people to actively log in and use Twitter when they register an account, as stated in our Inactive Accounts Policy.”

People are not required to tweet from their account to keep it active, they just need to sign in and follow on-screen prompts.