Saturday, January 30, 2010

Miffed with Twitter...

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

Well if you haven't noticed by now,'s Twitter account has been suspended 'due to suspicious activity'. When I first realized that the account was suspended, my thought was "why?"

I am a syndicated hockey writer who uses Twitter as part of the dissemination plan of the content. In addition to pushing links to content from through Twitter, I also use the service to send in-game Tweets - and there is a game in three hours!

That being said, I was naturally surprised when they account was suspended so I looked into the reasons for it. Apparently, the suspension was due to 'excessive following or follower churning'. This immediately made a light bulb go off in my head.

For the last week or so, I have been laid out in bed with an incredibly bad back. Without getting into all of the details, I have a compressed disc and a stress fracture on one of my vertebrae. As a result, I can't walk, sit or put any load on my spine. As such, I have had a tremendous amount of time on my hands and decided to put that time to good use.

Seeing as I am using Twitter solely for the purposes of talking about the Montreal Canadiens hockey team, I decided I would go out and try to follow as many Habs fans as I could find. So naturally, the first place I started was with the most popular Habs blogger who's name will be left unsaid - for obvious publicity reasons! What I did was follow almost all of HIS followers (approx 2K people) so that I could start to get a feel for the pulse of Habs fans out there. The problem, that I soon learned, was that not all of them Tweet and not all of them Tweet about the Habs. As such, many of them were not users that I felt I should be following.

So, after a few days, I went into my account and began to unfollow a bunch of them. The net result was that I went from following around 2K people to following around 500 people.

My next step was to check out the followers of the #1 Montreal-based newspaper's Twitter account - The Montreal Gazette. The Gazette has its own Montreal Canadiens specific site called Habs Inside/Out - and a Twitter account to go along with it. So I followed the same protocol and started following as many of the Habs Inside/Out followers. When I got to around 1600 followers, I had reached my limit for the day so I stopped. Little did I know, that this behaviour is "suspicious" and/or suspension worthy. This is what is known, in the Twitterverse, as 'excessive following or follower churning'.

What I believe happened, is that there was an overlap between the users following the Habs Blogger and the users following the newspaper. I believe that following, then unfollowing, then refollowing these users is what triggered the suspension of my Twitter account.

I had NO idea and honesty didn't even think about it at the time but now that my account is suspended, I understand their logic. Excessive user following/churning probably puts a huge amount of unnecessary load on their servers, which they likely frown upon.

Make sense to me. Mea Culpa. Sorry, sorry, sorry.

Anyway, I filled in their "please unsuspend my account" form and got an automated email response back tell me that "...We will do our best to get back to you within 30 days..."

Ummm, what?

30 days? Are you freakin' kidding me?

Twitter is an essential part of the and helps me stay in touch with Habs fans, see what they are talking about and push new content out. It is a corner stone to the social networking web that has made successful. So yes, I understand the reasons for suspending the account but I now have to wait up to 30 days before they do anything? Does this not seem completely unacceptable to anyone else?

I am not a spammer, I am not an abusive user and I actually have a pretty decent following right now. deos not exist without its fans and Twitter is telling me that I might be cut off from that fan base for up to 30 days.

Ridiculous, in my opinion. But there is nothing that I can seemingly do as I tried, in vain, to find a phone number or email address ANYWHERE on the Twitter site but found that none exist.

So now, with less than three hours till the Montreal Canadiens play the Ottawa Senators in Ottawa, I have no way of reaching out to the fan base. I have no way to provide them with the in-game Tweets that they have become used to and I feel completly cut off.

Sucks, but I'm just one guy who is trying to provide content to people who want it while Twitter is 'the man'. They have me bent over a barrel, lube in hand, and are choosing not to use it.

Sigh. Not much to do, I guess, except wait for Godot.




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