Follow Me On Twitter

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Warning! Big Twitter Is Watching YOU!


"5.  ...pages on other websites which display data hosted on must provide a link back to Twitter."

Ok, Here Ya Go - Link to Twitter

The De-Tweetification of Sam Freedom

Those of you who have not warmed up to me yet will find this next bit, doubtlessly, enjoyable.

About 2-3 days ago, it became obvious to me that my Twitter tweets were no longer working.  I'd attempt to send them and they would just quietly disappear into Twitter nothingness.  I thought Twitter, being as bug-riddled as it is, was merely having a youthful version of a senior moment - so I figured a couple hours and she'd be right as rain.

I Was Wrong.

Tweet after tweet became forever lost in the Twitter Abyss so off to Twitter support I went to craft my crafty request....

Turn Me Back On, Now

I mused that, perhaps, one of their over-zealous, support staff had spied my "Further Exploition via Data Mining on Twitter" and began to have hallucinations of young exploited Indian children laboring over piles of freshly woven socks in some underground sweatshop.  So I made it clear that I had included the precise definition of "exploit" in the article which reads "to gain an advantage", which we are all pretty much trying to do anyways.

So I Was Met With The Following

Hello Sam,

Thanks for your email. One or more of these things may cause your profile to be flagged for review:

  1. you've followed a large number of people in a short amount of time
  2. there is a small number of followers compared to number of people you're following
  3. the updates consist mainly of links and not personal updates
  4. a large number of users blocking the profile and writing in with spam complaints

When this happens, we suspend the account temporarily and hide the contents from the public timeline in order to remove the cause of user complaint. We like to keep the Twitter community more based on personal updates rather than links, and ask that you manage your content according to this. I can turn your profile on for your current followers, but we'll monitor the profile and if complaints continue we'll have to turn it off again. Thanks for your understanding in this matter,

Well, First Of All, Twitter Can Go Suck An Egg

Lest some passer-by without a set of his or her own think Twitter "has the right" to do whatever they want because they own it.  Sure, just like I have the right to invite you in my house and then kick you out because you ate only my green M&Ms.  We do, but presenting themselves as "social media" which is largely about "the conversation", they sure fell short of the mark.

But in case you still don't get it, let me dissect that sterile reply for you line by line:

you've followed a large number of people in a short amount of time

No kidding:  "Quick Tip on How to Get Followers on Twitter, Fast!"  Not only was I not hiding that fact, but also never found even a remote reference to any such nonsense in your terms of service; which, by the way, is far out of the way on the bottom of the inner FAQ pages.  And whose fault is that anyways since you not only make it effortless to view everyone's "Following" list but also to FOLLOW them?  Doesn't it make sense that someone we find very interesting might have good taste in who they follow, so that we might want to get to know them, too? 

So instead of interfering with my social experience, why don't you do what the big boys do and either add captcha or respond with a nice notice that says something like, "Hey!  Slow Down!  You're following too fast."  That would be cool.  But interfering with the social experience of innocent users is not.


there is a small number of followers compared to number of people you're following

This is just plain disappointing coming from an alleged "social" media provider.  Are you really saying that because someone dares to actually follow a large amount of people before they've gained a massive following of their own, they're somehow violating TOS or tripping red flags?  Why don't you do what the big boys do and rather than interfering with my social experience, at least provide some kind of a heads-up that such a red flag even exists.

Believe me, it's preferable to having the Twitter Gestapo kick down peoples' doors in the middle of the night because their merry band of followers is somehow insufficient to allow them to follow X amount of people.  I guess unpopular Twitterers are pretty much screwed once they follow that Xth person.

It's also not our fault that you haven't given us a way to MASS UNFOLLOW people who aren't following us in return.  To unfollow all those people would take well over a day because you haven't made it possible to unfollow en masse.  But you certainly made it possible to be penalized for not doing it.

the updates consist mainly of links and not personal updates

Now we're getting somewhere.  This point is ap-kray (crap).  It has NOTHING to do with LINKS.  First of all, a lot of MY followers were introduced to Twitter, or my Twitter existence, via MY blog on which I had been ADVERTISING for Twitter pretty much for FREE.  Remember, that's how you got to be so big in the first place.  Second, if this were REALLY about LINKS, then you'd have to shut down Robert Scoble's link dump account and Seesmic and so many other people whose 1000000s of links are passing through the public timeline RIGHT NOW.

So links only bother you unless it clearly benefits you to be associated with the person dumping tons of links.  That's fine, but at least fully disclose that.  Just say somewhere that it's ok for Robert Scoble and anyone else who brought you 1000s of followers to flood Twitter with links but everyone else should be concerned about tripping red flags and getting their tweets shut off.  No problem.  Just make it clear. 

And, by the way, I have no remorse for tweeting 5 or 6 links for the hour or 2 following each of my blog posts.  AFTER ALL, that IS where I met many of my followers.  Links by ME to MY BLOG which has INSPIRED people to some cooler ways of benefitting from Twitter, should be a lot less offensive than 1000s of links by other users going to other sites including competitors.

Or maybe you are saying that your vision for Twitter should be limited to 100000s of people talking about useless nonsense like how they're enjoying their coffee without ever pointing to an external site.. .well, not too much anyways.  Which is kind of a funny thing since we're on the internet.

a large number of users blocking the profile and writing in with spam complaints

Well, was it that?  And if so, don't those complainers have a BLOCK button?  Were there REALLY spam complaints?  And did you REALLY review them? And why didn't you, at least, send a nice note explaining, "Hey, we've suspended your account due to a couple of spam complaints.  We're sorry but give us a day or two to review them and figure out if they have merit."

But you just shut off my tweets and said nothing.  So instead of interfering with my social experience, why don't you do like the big boys do and tell people to BLOCK or UNFOLLOW someone first and then see if the complaints continue.

Now let's go over the basic terms and see if I'm still a Tweeter in good standing:

Twitter's Basic Terms

  • You must be 13 years or older to use this site.

Check, I think.

  • You are responsible for any activity that occurs under your screen name.

Check.  Except when the devil makes me "do it."

  • You are responsible for keeping your password secure.

Check.  I'll make sure my anti-virus definitions are up-to-date.

  • You must not abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users.

Check, but I'm trying really hard to hold back right now.

  • You may not use the service for any illegal or unauthorized purpose. International users agree to comply with all local laws regarding online conduct and acceptable content.

Check, I'm no longer acquainted with members of the Medallin cartel.

  • You are solely responsible for your conduct and any data, text, information, screen names, graphics, photos, profiles, audio and video clips, links ("Content") that you submit, post, and display on the service.

Check, but if something about this rule drew the red flag, I'd probably have agreed.

  • You must not modify, adapt or hack or modify another website so as to falsely imply that it is associated with .

Check, I'm scrapping the TWAMBLA website I had in mind.

  • You must not create or submit unwanted email to any Twitter members ("Spam").

Check.  But if I actually had their emails that might be a different story.

  • You must not transmit any worms or viruses or any code of a destructive nature.

Check, except the ones you give me.

  • You must not, in the use of Twitter, violate any laws in your jurisdiction (including but not limited to copyright laws).

Check.  Looks like I'm moving to Nevada.

So Then What's The Problem, Twitter? 

A little overzealous are we?  Micro-managing things just a little too much, maybe?  Just a big twit in a little roost, huh?

Well, If You Can't Handle the Tweet, Twitter, Then Get Out of the Twittin'...!

Now, If You Want to See Some REAL Spam, click here.

Sam Freedom"s Internet Marketing Controversy Blog

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Dennis said...

WTF? "Twitter" is really sounding more like something you call that crazy old aunt, then a social web site.

I was considering joining; maybe not. Do you still have any good points to promote them?


Sam Freedom said...

Hi Dennis,

Here's the thing that fascinates me: when anything is in its infancy, you have to give it some slack. Some companies need time to determine how well their support staff is doing and to respond to various user complaints such as mine.

It certainly does make sense, though, that Twitter should have some way of knowing who is really pumping them not just as "a wicked cool new thing" but as something that's actually USEFUL.

Well-known bloggers such as Jennifer Laycock couldn't even figure out decent uses for Twitter and was surprised to finally find one (after which her cronies raved about it like it was the discovery of the sunken flagship Atocha), and groups like Mashable or Twitter Facts couldnt't even find good uses for some of the more cute 3rd party applications, such as Twitter Poster, AND yet I did which, in the very least, gave my readers a basis by which they could investigate further, then Twitter ought to be more careful in how they pick and choose who to TURN OFF.

While I understand a fairly new social media upstart is going to have its share of things to work out, it's nothing new that ANY company should err on the side of considering all members innocent until proven otherwise.

This is ESPECIALLY important for a social media company that wants everyone to believe they're a part of the "conversation" - the new Web 2.0 phenomenon - rather than interfering with (helpful) user's activities over the slightest complaints by people who have full ability to ignore/block/unfollow that which they don't like.

So a big THUMBS DOWN to Twitter on this matter, for not observing BASIC, timeless, "customer-centric" principles.

So Twitter, if you're listening (and Biz Stone's MyBlogLog profile has visited this site), it's not WHAT you run, but HOW you run it that matters.

So reign in your overzealous "red flag" experts before you shoot of some of your more useful toes.

ps. Dennis, if you have a knack for staying under the radar or out of the spotlight and that's fine with you, then Twitter can be useful. It's when you have any ability to grab some attention, and you don't quite do it the way "everyone else" is doing it, that you run a risk of being targeted by any over-zealous, jealous employee of not just Twitter, but ANY company where the support staff is under-supervised.

Telling It Like It Is said...

Sam, I appreciate this post. It definitely gives me a heads up. I just got my twitter account set up just a few minutes ago, after reading Caroline Middlebrook's post. I thought I'd check it out, and we'll see how it goes.

But geez, if I find people (like yourself) that I'm interested in reading about or "following", and Twitter has a conniption about how many I choose to follow in a relatively short period of time, is it really worth bothering with one more social networking site? Thanks for the heads up!

Igor The Troll said...

Sam, you such a communist..:)
You red, white, and blue bastard.

On the funny note. I bought red, white and blue sneakers. Guess I am getting the bug from you!

On the sad note. Read for yourselves and judge.


Igor The Troll said...

Sorry reposting the link forgot we are not on Free WordPress..:)

USA visa application refused


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