Age Limits for Twitter Followers? New Platform Offers Booze Barrier

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Brookstrut / Vitrue

“Miller High Life — The Champagne of Beers!” Remember that one? Or how about “Schaefer – It’s the One Beer to Have When You’re Having More than One!” (Translation: Let’s get drunk!) Sound like the sort of message you want your kids attaboy’ing by following on Twitter?

Okay, hiding stuff from kids online is sort of like trying to blot out the sky with a handkerchief, but a new platform called Vitrue (get it?) is taking a stab at making it harder for underage Twitter users to follow alcohol brands via the popular social networking service.

(MORE: Is Twitter Really More Addictive than Alcohol? The Vagaries of Will and Desire)

The idea sounds a little mundane: basically an age-gate for alcohol-branded Twitter accounts that asks would-be followers to confirm their age before they’re allowed to socialize with the hypothetically blissful and soused. According to Mashable, the idea’s to help companies like American Express and McDonald’s limit interaction with Twitter users to “age-appropriate audiences.”

An age gate never stopped anyone, of course, since there’s no actual verification process. I barrel through age gates myself, picking whatever pops up when fast-scrolling through the years at random. The way it works with Vitrue, when someone tries to follow a brand, something Vitrue calls “Twitter Gate” fires a direct message to the would-be follower. The company’s set up a fake brewery called BrookstrutAle to demonstrate the feature — try to follow @BrookstrutAle, and you’ll get the message: “We only allow people who are of legal drinking age to follow us. Please click this link to verify your age:”

That link takes you to a web page that says the brewery “wants to Tweet responsibly,” then asks for the visitor to input their country and date of birth. When I put mine in, I got a page back that thanked me and offered a button to “complete the process by re-following [Brookstrut] and let the good times flow.”

What do you think, Techland readers: Should companies throw up age gates for followers? Does anyone think it’ll stop underage followers from simply blasting through the intermediary step?

MORE: Intoxicase: The Drinking Person’s iPhone Case and App