Last month, your editor discovered not only that Coors Light had created a Twitter account (launched as a promoted account) but that the account also spit back an automated direct message with a link asking me to verify my birth date.
Up until that point, a number of alcohol-related accounts had used their own informal measures to verify a follower’s age, if at all. In the case of The Boston Beer Co., for example, if a user follows one of the company’s brands, they will be greeted with the message, “Our lawyers wanted us to ask you to only share our content with those who are of legal drinking age. Thanks!”
It may seem like a nuisance but adult beverage producers are being closely watched by the government. The FTC requested data from fourteen producers back in April related to their advertising practices as part of a new research study. Recommendations from past FTC research studies included the common “age-gates” that you find on each manufacturer’s website. More importantly, for the first time ever, the FTC requested information on “Internet and digital marketing and data collection practices.” With the surge in business usage of social media over the past few years, this is a hot button issue in the beverage world.
Among the companies that are part of that study is MillerCoors, which just happens to be a launch partner for a new service that Twitter and Buddy Media are formally launching today around age screening:
Age Screening is a complimentary feature offered to brands to prevent underage users from following accounts with age restricted content. Buddy Media has partnered with Twitter to create this preferred Age Screening feature. If your company would like to use this feature, please sign up below to submit your brand for approval. Buddy Media will provide you with access to Age Screening once approved.
Much like Facebook, adult beverage producers and other marketers that want to screen their followers for their age can now do so on Twitter.
To see how it works, you can follow the @CoorsLight Twitter account. You will receive a direct message with a link asking you to verify your age. This information is not shared with the account owner, according to Buddy Media. If you meet the age threshold set by that account, you will continue to follow that account. The @MillerLite Twitter account just recently launched as well though the age service hasn’t been turned on for this account as of publishing.
What does this mean for Twitter users following brands like Coors Light? It may mean that you’re about to see that age-gate screen quite frequently going forward. Though that may sound like a bad thing, the launch of the service provides a standard that all companies can use in screening their followers. If the FTC had any plans to crack down on adult beverage producers for marketing on Twitter, this should quell any fears of that happening.
UPDATE: The service will not apply retroactively so marketers will be unable to age-screen existing followers with this method.
The service operates on an opt-in basis. Marketers looking to sign up for the new service can do so at age.twitter.com.