Twitter is Being Anti-Social

    June 9, 2009

I have had my ups and downs with Twitter to be sure. In my line of work however, Twitter has become one of those things that you really can’t ignore, so I’m good with it.  I like the Tweeting. I consider myself a fan.  As such, I try to spread the good word about Twitter to my non-Twittering friends and associates.

If you have ever tried to explain Twitter to someone, or beyond that, why they should be Twittering, you probably understand that it’s not the easiest thing to communicate. But I try.  I talk the talk, get people logging in and tweeting and figure whatever Twitter’s addictive ingredient is (I can’t put my finger on it) will take effect and a new Twitter-phile will soon emerge.

The problem I’m running into lately though, is Twitter itself.  Oddly enough, I’m having people come back to me a few days after I get them all set up and tweeting talking about how their account has been suspended for suspicious activity. This is happening way too much for me to think it’s just some isolated incident at this point.

Now, I know Twitter is trying to keep Twitter from descending into a full blown spam cesspool (i.e. MySpace).  I understand that they probably don’t like seeing articles and Nielsen graphs about poor retention rates.  But… guys, c’mon.  Here’s a ‘for instance’ for you.

A couple of weeks ago, I started banging the Twitter drum here in the office to one of our new staff people.  I believe it was a Wednesday afternoon.  I gave her the walk thru, we uploaded a pic for her profile, customized her page, found something interesting to tweet… the whole 9 yards.  She found and followed a few friends and everything was cool.

But it wasn’t cool.  4 days later, she goes to log in and play with Twitter a little more and what does she get? A big fat ‘Suspended for suspicious activity’ message on her account.  

Mosey Owl Suspicious activity?  Really?  

Here are her stats – 3 followers, following 7, 1 update  — and 4 days later the account is suspended. She contacted them via the email address in the notice of course, but it’s been a full week now and still no lift of the suspension.

So, I got nothing…  completely makes no sense to me. I can’t imagine Twitter is intentionally over-suspending accounts because they are so preoccupied with retention rates.  If they are, well, that’s just beyond dumb.  It borders on full frontal stupidity to be honest – regardless of the rationale.  

Sure you want nice retention rates, but you know what’s more important than that?  New users.  If the new users actually do something wrong once they are in, then sure, suspend away.  But taking some kind of scorched earth/soup nazi stance on new accounts is probably not the best policy.

The community will deal with the spammers. They will be super easy to pick out after a few weeks when they are following 3,000 and followed by 50.  if you spam my Twitter feed, I just unfollow you.  It’s real easy.  Twitter shouldn’t be overly concerned with this.  It’s a waste of their time – particularly when there are sooo many other cool things they could be focused on to improve about/add to Twitter.

Twitter is certainly popular and becoming more and more known but ‘knowing about’ Twitter and having a Twitter account are not the same thing.  If they don’t get their act together a little bit, for a lot of people, it never will be.  You should never make it hard to become a part of your social media site.  That’s anti-social.

So we’ll see.  Maybe there’s a glitch, maybe there’s an error – I’m sure they will have some kind of excuse, but as it stands @AliKayOrd still has the little ‘mosey along’ owl. After sending them a polite ‘wtf’ email a full 7 days ago. She’ll continue to wait and try to get her access back, but how many people wouldn’t? Tsk, tsk, tsk Twitter.

I submitted this article before I went to lunch and Ali’s account was restored before I got back.  So, kudos to the Twitter folk for at least keeping tabs on this sort of thing (at least when WebProNews pubs an article giving them a hard time about it).  Unfortunately I can’t do an article for everybody that this happens to, but maybe if you leave your @address in a comment, they will get you fixed too…