Anyone who has ever visited the official website of a brewery or tried to watch a Mature-rated video game trailer knows the pain-in-the-ass part where you have to enter in your birthday in order to continue. Age verification is a way for companies to put some barrier between young people and mature content - although it's not like these age firewalls are that tough to bypass.
But one company is hoping that brands on Twitter will look into a "Twitter Gate," or an age verification prompt that makes audiences take a couple of extra steps before they can follow them on the site.
The company is a social management platform called Virtue, and they have worked with top brands like McDonald's, AT&T, and American Express.
“Brands have a responsibility to make sure they take appropriate measures to ensure the right age group and demographic is looking at their content,” John Nolt, director of product management at Vitrue, told Mashable. “This will allow brands to demonstrate their commitment to that effort.”
So here's the type of thing that they have in mind:
Virtue set up a fake Twitter account for a fake Brewery called @BrookstrutAle. This account was set up to demonstrate how the Twitter Gate system might work.
Once you decide to follow the company, you'll receive a direct message that says something like "We only allow people who are of legal drinking age to follow us." The message will provide a link to a site where Twitter users can verify their age.
The Twitter user will be taken to a verification site that says how the company in question needs them to complete the form in order to be able to follow them:
After that, users will be able to refollow the Twitter account of the company in question.
Like I mentioned before, it's not like most of the age verification firewalls are cross-checking FBI records. And anyone can just lie about their age to bypass them. I mean, I definitely wasn't born on January 1st, 1919 - but it hasn't stopped me from checking out adult materials under that guise.
But do you think these extra steps would help limit the underage followers of brands like Budweiser or Sam Adams? Do you even think brands like this have a responsibility to try to prevent minors from following them on Twitter? Let us know in the comments.