I guess all of you are familiar with the annoyingly ubiqutous age verification pages that pop up whenever you visit a website of a whisky distillery or any other kind of alcohol brand. Some corporate Twitter accounts have taken this to the next level by requiring anyone who follows them to go through an age check page as well.
Yes, I know. It is all for a good cause. Preventing ‘underage’ youngsters from drinking alcohol is a very important issue, we all have read reports about binge drinking teens needing to be hospitalized in state of coma. No-one would seriously encourage such behaviour. For this reason the sale of alcohol to minors is forbidden, and rightly so. Utmost care is to be taken that shops and bars don’t serve them.
Since the alcoholic drinks industry wants to avoid any association with encouraging minors to consume their products, they invented the age verification page any website visitor has to pass. Usually this requires you to enter your date of birth and your country of reisidence to determine if you are of legal age to drink alcohol.
Now, wait a minute. Is it actually illegal for minors to read about alcohol? If so, all advertising for alcohol on billboards and in magazines or newspapers would be illegal. I guess this is not the case. It is perfectly legal for a 10 year old to look at a pictures of whisky bottles and even to read the text beneath.
Actually the very same 10 year old could easily access a whisky, gin or vodka website, pretending to be born on 25th December 1905, and look at all the glitzy booze bottles. Any consequences? Of course not, neither for the kid nor for the company. Nobody would have broken any law anyway.
A quick look in the dictionary tells me that to verify means to make sure something is correct. So the age verification page on a booze website would have to make sure that nobody under the legal drinking age can access the site. Since a proper age verification is virtually impossible to implement, the use of such pages is slacktivism at its best: to demonstrate awareness of a problem without actual effect. Or have there been any studies that age ‘verification’ pages actually prevent minors from getting physical access to alcohol?
If the alcoholic drink industry is able to prove the effectiveness of their age verification pages, I will withdraw my complaints. If not, they should get rid of this nonsense.