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Twitter, Buddy Media introduce "Age Screening" for adult brands

Parental advisory just got a helpful push from Twitter, which launched an age-screening feature that will restrict access to certain brands deemed inappropriate for young users.

In conjunction with Buddy Media, Twitter has developed a way to allow any marketer who wants or needs to screen followers' ages to do so while following industry standards.

"Many brands have asked for a way to screen the age of their followers on Twitter," Buddy Media CEO Michael Lazerow said in a blog entry.

The free feature has so far gathered support from alcohol brands and other industries with age-related content.

Brown-Forman's Jack Daniels, Jim Beam's Skinnygirl, and MillerCoors' Coors Light and Miller Lite have served as the beta-testing group. Now that the program is public, any advertiser can slap the restrictions onto their Twitter account.

"The Twitter and Buddy Media solution solves a challenge many marketers have faced in confirming their followers are of age to follow their brand," Lazerow said.

Compliance with industry regulations and guidelines falls on advertisers, which formerly had to develop their own custom age-screening process, with mixed results. Now, marketers can opt in to Twitter's system, which closely follows standard practices.

"And, perhaps most importantly, it makes this process simple," Lazerow said.

Any time a Twitter user attempts to follow a participating brand, it will automatically send a Direct Message with a link to the age-screening processing page, where the person can privately enter their age. That number will be calculated via Twitter and Buddy Media's tool, and not be provided to the marketer.

The age-supplying process is a one-time deal, so users don't have to continually enter their birth date to follow each new brand.

If the user meets the requirements, they will automatically begin following the brand. If they are not so lucky, they will be denied, and will have to look elsewhere for their beer news.

"The result is a solution that makes marketers' lives easier, without creating extra work for the brand or the user," Lazerow said.

Still, users determined to gain access to age-restricted brands could just as easily enter false information without Twitter's or the marketer's knowledge. The micro-blogging site has more faith in its users, though.

"We are trusting users to input their valid birth date, and we have no plans to cross reference this with third party data," Twitter spokesman Will Stickney said in a statement.

Companies can submit their brand for approval via Twitter's age page.

The move comes one month after agreed to acquire Buddy Media for $689 million (£447 million).