The Inactive-Account Problem is Only Going to Get Worse

Elaine Kasket
5 min readNov 29, 2019

How’s Twitter supposed to decide what to keep and what to cull?

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

During Thanksgiving week in America, when people celebrate family ties over turkey and pumpkin pie, Twitter announced that it was beginning a massive cull of inactive accounts. Anyone who hadn’t signed in for six months, it warned, would soon have their account wiped from the network.

If someone hasn’t logged on for half a year, maybe they’re on a social media detox. Maybe they’ve decided that they prefer to express themselves in more than 280 characters.

Or maybe they’re no longer alive.

In the latter case, the user may be no more, but their family, friends and followers may still experience close ties to their ongoing digital presence, through the social media profiles that they leave behind.

Harris Wittels’ sister knew that when she hit ‘Tweet’, the message would materialise like a haunting in the feeds of the late comedian’s 89 thousand friends and followers. If it would preserve the profile, though, she reckoned it was worth startling a few people. Unlike many mourners, she apparently had access to his devices and/or his Twitter password, so Stephanie was able to log on.

‘Twitter is going to start deleting inactive accounts in December, and it would be a…



Elaine Kasket

Speaker, coach, cyberpsychologist. Author of REBOOT: Reclaiming Your Life in a Tech-Obsessed World and All the Ghosts in the Machine.