Why my account got suspended on Twitter
Ben Martin, IBM Social Business Enablement Leader UKI
I woke on Friday morning to no new followers and no retweets, and a feeling of withdrawal kicked in from my addiction to social. (See my post “Singing about Social” for more on my social addiction.)
Upon opening my email, I saw a note from Twitter with the subject “Why Your Account Has Been Suspended.” Panic set in. What have I done? What have I posted? Who have I offended? Was it another accidental posting of erroneous material? (Yes, that has happened to me!) Then came question of, Don’t they know who I am? and the realization that I’m just a small fish in a big pond, with possible delusions of grandeur.
It was time to find out why this happened. Twitter did kindly supply a link to advise me on why suspension occurs—but in it I found a never-ending list of potential reasons. Nothing was helping me; I had no opportunity to learn from my mistakes. The question of why was still spinning in my head.
I submitted a help ticket that resulted in, “you have been suspended for one of the following reasons” and “if you do not respond and admit you made a mistake and promise you will not do it again” this ticket will be closed.
Not surprisingly, when I chased down the ticket some five hours later, it had been closed. After raising yet another ticket and name dropping some Twitter VPs I received an email that answered my why question. And this is the reason Twitter gave me:
This account was suspended for sending multiple unsolicited messages using the @reply and/or mention feature. These features are intended to make communication between people on Twitter easier. Twitter monitors the use of these features to make sure they are used as intended and not for abuse. Using either feature to post messages to a bunch of users in an unsolicited or egregious manner is considered an abuse of its use, which results in account suspension.
Wow! My first thought was, Really? I mention someone when saying thanks for following me or thanks for sharing, when giving credit to content, when engaging with questions and answers and when having general chitchat. Is Twitter now saying I cannot do this anymore? The only time in I could think of in the last week or so that I mentioned someone who wasn’t even following me was when I wished them a happy birthday. How rude of me.
As I thought more about the message above I started to hone in on the “unsolicited messages.” How is this defined? This is a platform that you opt to receive communication from as soon as you join. I of course realize that there are those who abuse and spam corrupt links. So did I fall into this category when I gave credit for content I shared? It would seem so.
So yet again I went back to Twitter. “Please could I speak to someone? I am eager to understand what I did to result in this penalty. Clearly I do not want this is happen again. Educate me.”
This was the response:
Our systems are automated and it seems that they considered you as spam as you were @replying people with a link (which is a legitimate link).
My account was soon after reactivated, and several hours later my community was back. The situation was resolved but I was still none the wiser. I can understand automation because of the size of Twitter, but it is clearly not intelligent.
Will I continue to give credit where credit is due? Yes. Will I be at risk of being suspended again? It would appear so.
Has this happened to you? How long did it take to get your account was reactivated? What did you learn?
Share your experiences below or connect with me on Twitter.
Ben Martin works as part of the transformation team for IBM UKI. His role as Social Business Enablement Leader utilizes his many years of experience in using social media technologies to engage with both internal employees and external clients, helping facilitate faster responses through collaboration and sharing of information. His thought leadership on the use of social technologies has led to many presentations and webcasts, globally both from within the corporation and out.
Ben is an IBM Redbooks thought leader.