Last week I spent 16 hours suspended from Twitter.
For about two weeks I had been manually following 100 to 200 accounts per day in an attempt to get more traffic to my blog. At some point in each day I'd go to Justunfollow.com and un-follow the fart-heads accounts that hadn't followed me back within the past four days or so.
Last Monday, I was suspended for “following aggressively.”
Image: Titanas via Flickr
Since I couldn't report my tragedy on Twitter, I raced over to Facebook...
When I followed up with Twitter, I was told to review their Best Practices page and check some boxes to indicate that I had read the Best Practices and that I would not continue my bad practices.
I skimmed the Best Practices page and hastily checked the boxes, not exactly sure what my bad practices were. How many accounts was considered "following aggressively?" Forty? Four hundred? Four thousand? I didn't know, but my account was restored within 30 minutes and so everything was right with the world again.
Over the next three days, I slowed my following habits down and I didn't un-follow much at all. Needless to say, this was very traumatic because it meant that I would have a smaller follower number than the number I was following. And everybody knows you look way more important when you have more followers than the number you're following. So I looked unimportant, and while that may be a more accurate representation of my persona, I didn't want to advertise it on Twitter.
Thursday, I followed a bunch of people (more than 50 and I think less than 100, but I can't be absolutely sure, but definitely less than 200) in the afternoon. Later in the evening, I followed 20 or so people, switched over to my favstar account (where I can easily read and retweet people's jokes) and deleted four or five of my duplicate tweets (re: my blog posts). Bam! Suspended. What???
This time I got an official Twitter email that said I was suspended and that I would need to make an appeal by sending an email indicating that I would stop my "aggressive following" activity. Included in the letter was this:
"Following large numbers of users in an attempt to attract attention to your own account can be annoying to other users and is a violation of the Twitter Rules."
Well, holy crap, is that what I was doing? Was that in the Best Practices? I don't remember seeing that when I skimmed them. And what does that have to do with me deleting my tweets?
"We monitor all accounts for aggressive following and follow churn (repeatedly following and un-following large numbers of other users). You can read more about these below, but if you don't follow or un-follow hundreds of users in a single day, and you aren't using automated methods of following users, you should be fine." - from the Twitter Following Rules and Best Practices page (emphasis mine)
Apparently, when I read the Best Practices page the first time, I missed the part about following hundreds of people a day. So I wasn't doing my best practicing on Twitter. Of course, they never mentioned anything about my concern over being suspended for deleting my own tweets. But I realized then that it was a moot point since I had followed somewhere around 50 to 200 people earlier in the day.
So I did what anyone else who's been suspended from Twitter would do: No, I didn't cry - although I came close. I lived my life! I watched five episodes of The Office and started reading a novel (which I haven't picked up since that night). Meanwhile, I checked my account every 30 minutes only to find this...
Friday morning, I rolled my face over the drool spot on my pillow to reach for my phone... still suspended. It wasn't until 12:30pm that my suspension was over and my following/follower count started to go back up. Finally... I could breathe again.
Just so we're clear, let me summarize the suckiest and best parts of Twitter Jail.
The suckiest parts about being in Twitter Jail:
1. You can't tweet for 16 hours.
2. You can't retweet for 16 hours.
3. You can't share your blog posts for 16 hours.
4. You're invisible for 16 hours.
5. You don't have a life for 16 hours.
6. When they add back all the accounts that you follow, you receive all those personalized DMs (direct messages) again, over the course of a few hours.
7. People think you un-followed them while you're suspended. When you pop up on Justunfollow.com as someone that un-followed them, you look like a jerk, so they un-follow you. When your suspension is done, you've lost a bunch of followers. And you feel like a weenie going to each one of them and saying, "I'm sorry, I didn't really un-follow you, I was suspended from Twitter, they made me un-follow everyone. Please follow me again. Please." Because what if they just didn't like you anymore and it had nothing to do with you un-following them? Then you're an even bigger loser than before the DM you sent.
The best parts about being in Twitter Jail:
1. I was able to reflect.
- I realized I depend too much on Twitter.
- I realized my life will not end if my Twitter account disappears.
2. I spent time with my family without my phone.
3. I watched five episodes of The Office.
4. I started reading a novel.
5. I cleaned that pile of hand-wash only dishes.
6. I showered.
Other than that it sucked. So I won't be aggressively following anymore. That means I'll have to depend on others to share my crap, including this post and my mediocre jokes. So share away, my friends!
Also, clearly, I'm a fart-head too because I don't always follow people back - most often because I miss the notifications on my phone, but if you want a follow-back and I haven't reciprocated, just @ me and I will (unless you're a complete weirdo and I intentionally didn't follow you back, then forget it.)
Have you ever been suspended from Twitter? Probably not. Have you ever been in Twitter jail? Let me know in the comments.
Kate Hall writes a humor blog at Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine with My Morning Quiet Time? when she's not attempting jokes on Twitter.
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