It appears that Twitter accounts who have been tweeting links to pages from ecommerce site Bonanza (formerly Bonanzle) have been getting suspended by Twitter. Bonanza co-founder Mark Dorsey tells WebProNews, "This past Friday, hundreds of our sellers' Twitter accounts were suspended. Our forums state that it is more than 500 Twitter accounts that have been unjustly suspended by Twitter. Even our corporate @Bonanzamarket account was suspended (never have we broken any Twitter rules)."
Dorsey says the company has reached out to Twitter, but so far has only received an auto reply, saying:
We understand that you're contesting an account suspension. Please be sure to read this entire email.
Twitter suspends accounts for a variety of reasons. Your account was suspended because it appears you may be managing a number of Twitter accounts. Creating serial or bulk accounts with overlapping uses is a violation of the Twitter Rules; as a result, all of the accounts created have been suspended pending more information being provided.
Please respond with the following information in only one ticket:
a) a list of the accounts that you have created and which of these you would like to have reinstated, and
b) your planned use for the accounts.
The Twitter Rules can be found here: http://support.twitter.com/articles/18311
"We immediately replied to their auto reply and have not heard back yet," Dorsey tells us. "It is now Monday and nothing has changed."
"There were accounts that were suspended that have sent 1-2 tweets total," he notes. "From our side it appears that anyone who has ever tweeted a Bonanza item has been part of this mass suspension."
Ina Steiner at eCommerceBytes reports that one seller told her that the suspensions included users who had not tweeted about Bonanza in several months, as well as those who tweet daily. Steiner writes:
The seller said the bulk of those effected did not have multiple twitter accounts, and, "the few who do, use their multiple accounts in different ways. It would appear that the suspensions were really the result of their bots identifying any tweet with "at Bonanza", "@Bonanza", or "#Bonanza" as spam, thus earning an immediate suspension."
As she pointed out, Bonanza members are eclipsed by Etsy and eBay users who also promote their businesses on Twitter. But could the mass-suspension of Bonanza users be the beginning of a wider trend, she asked? "This targeting of small business owners has got to stop," she said.
"This is either a horrible mistake by Twitter, or the first move in what could be a mass removal of marketplace sellers from Twitter," says Dorsey. "Maybe Twitter is going the way of Google Shopping and looking to monetize their service."
We've reached out to Twitter for comment, but so far we have not heard back. We'll update if that changes.
Update: Dorsey tells us that a few hours after we ran this story, he received word from Twitter that their automated system mistakenly added Bonanza to a spam group. He shares this response from Twitter:
Twitter has automated systems that find and remove multiple automated spam accounts in bulk. 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.
According to Dorsey, most if not all accounts have been reinstated.