I tried to login to Twitter on Saturday only to be informed that my account had been suspended by Twitter itself. Once the panic subsided, I decided to dig in and try to find out what had happened, and to try to get my account reinstated. What ensued over the next three days can only be described as Kafka-esque (just call me “Josef K”) and was not without a few moments of grim theater, accompanied by some abject groveling from yours truly.
It all culiminated with the following e-mail from the very appropriately named “kryptops”account with the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your account was suspended for violations of the Twitter Rules, such as:
- Aggressive Following
- Updates consisting mainly of links, and not
- Using prohibited third party services
As such, your account will not be re-enabled.
As it happens, I got very busy toward the end of last week, and on Wednesday through Friday, the only tweets I posted were links to my blogs at the time: 3 on Wednesday, 1 on Thursday, and 2 more on Friday, though I did write a description of each blog with each tweet, so on a character count basis it wa a lot more than my “updates consisting mainly of links, and not personal updates” as the rules read. I had to do some research to figure out that agressive following means “…indiscriminately following hundreds of accounts just to garner attention” (Twitter Help Center: Following Rules and Best Practices). I can state with absolute confidence that I couldn’t be considered guilty of that because I wasn’t even following 100 people at the time my account was suspended. I’m still not sure what “using prohibitied third party services” means, nor can I find any elucidation in “The Twitter Rules” either (except perhaps for a passage that reads “Using or promoting third-party sites that claim to get you more followers…”). And again, if that is what this language means, I can state with high assurance that I did none of that.
About the only thing I can figure is those tweets from the end of the week, as I mentioned. But when I looked at postings in the same period from other people I follow (such as social media commentator Mack Collier and my old Interop Program Committee running buddy David Strom) I saw them posting many more links than I did on those days, and observed that 75-plus-percent of their postings included links. So I must confess myself a bit stumped by the whole situation.
But what really gets my dander up is that there’s no due process for Twitter. I read the instructions on how to deal with suspension and wrote a groveling letter in which I admitted my behavior, reported that I had read and understood the rules, and would henceforth sin no more. No dice. Suspension stays in effect as quoted verbatim earlier in this post, no appeal possible or allowed. I’m sorry: this sucks. I may have to abide by their arbitrary, poorly explained, and apparently idiosyncratic application of their rules, but I don’t have to like it. And like it I most emphatically do not.
I’ve been active on the Internet since graduate school in 1979, and a serious netizen since the mid-1980s. It really frosts me that a company gets to decide at their own discretion both how to define and interpret their own rules. Helps me understand, though, what the occasional fuss about “due process” in legal circles is really all about: one clearly defined and publicly interpreted (and recorded) set of rules for everybody, subject only to the whims of the best legal talent that money can buy. Sigh.
[Follow-up note August 23, 2011]
After a phone conversation with a Dell Customer Advisory Panel (#DellCAP) friend and colleague this morning, she contacted a high-up at Twitter to ask about my account suspension. Not 15 minutes later the following e-mail from “The Captain” showed up in my inbox:
This is a follow-up to your previous request #3898270“Never saw the suspension em…”
Twitter has automated systems that find and remove multiple automated spam accounts inbulk. Unfortunately, it looks like your account got caught up in one of these spam groups by mistake.
I’ve restored your account; sorry for the inconvenience.
Please note that it may take an hour or so for your follower and following numbers to return to normal.
Just goes to show you that high friends in low places still rule the world as we know it. I remain steamed that whoever parsed my initial “please don’t maintain my account suspension” email saw fit only to respond that the suspension would stand without trying to figure out if it was legitimate or not. I didn’t think it was, but made no headway in arguing my case. I’m amazed and incredibly grateful that “The Captain” agreed with my assessment and reversed the suspension. I just hope I don’t get swept up in the same net again too terrribly soon. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed to help ensure that I stay on the right side of the spam cops from now on!
One thought on “Booted Off Twitter! No Due Process, Either…”