Twitter and Buddy Media have just announced a partnership which will screen the ages of users who try to follow ‘adult’ brands on Twitter that implement a new ‘age-gate’ system. The system was generated as a service that marketers and brands can use on Twitter to ensure that they’re not peddling their wares to illegally young users.

The brands themselves will have to implement the new age-gate, so it wont work out of the box for every adult brand automatically.

The new age-gate system has been beta tested with alcohol brands like Skinny Girl, Coors, Miller and Jack Daniels. Today, Buddy Media and Twitter are making it available to any marketers. Previously, these brands would have had to cobble together their own solutions to make a presence on Twitter work for them. Some of them settled on a profile message that just said “By following you confirm you’re of legal drinking age,” like Jim Beam’s Skinny Girl.

Now, they get a streamlined solution that works right within Twitter’s on frameworks to verify the validity of a follower before they pass go.

Here’s the basic process:

First, a user sees a brand they’d like to follow. Say, Skinny Girl. They click the Follow button. The brand immediately Direct Messages a link to the user, asking them to confirm their age by visiting age.twitter.com.

Screen Shot 2012 07 12 at 1.17.17 PM Twitter just introduced an age gate to deter kids from following adult brands. Heres how it works.

The user is then taken to a branded page at the Age verification site. This keeps it looking very Twitter-like and official. They’re presented with a message that requires them to enter their age and accept a set of terms.

Screen Shot 2012 07 12 at 1.18.15 PM 520x369 Twitter just introduced an age gate to deter kids from following adult brands. Heres how it works.

Once they do, they’re taken back to the official page and are now following the brand It’s a streamlined process that takes just a couple of seconds. Since it’s delivered in a DM, it should work for third-party clients just fine, as they’ll be taken to a browser window to go through the process.

If the person fails the age-gate, the account is immediately protected and they are blocked from following it, so there is no ‘trying again’ with a different date.

Screen Shot 2012 07 12 at 1.58.18 PM 520x97 Twitter just introduced an age gate to deter kids from following adult brands. Heres how it works.

Note that once a brand has verified you, you can unfollow and re-follow them without going through the age-gate again. Once you’ve verified your age to one brand, you’re able to follow any of the brands that use the system. This means you won’t get a verification message every time you follow a participating brand.

The main issue with this age-gate is that it’s obviously no better than any of these ‘what’s your age’ fields on any website with ‘restricted’ content. I lied blatantly on the Skinny Girl form about my date and it accepted it, so it’s not doing any outside verification.

So this is primarily an indemnification method for these brands, allowing them to do business on Twitter while following the laws of the land, rather than any true prevention method for actually stopping kids from seeing their content. This means that they follow “standard industry practices”, but those practices really aren’t all that stringent.

So if little Johnny really wants to follow Jim Beam on Twitter, he’s still going to be able to, but this does sew up some legal loopholes that existed for major brands on the service. A crossing of the legal ‘t”s, but nothing in the way of proactive ‘real identity’ verification…yet.

Image Credit: Michelle Tribe