Friday August 1st, I had taken a day of vacation to clean house, and was working from home. Late in the day I started to experience funkiness with my account on Twitter. Now, two important points. First point, earlier this week I stated in this blog that Twitter is my #2 productivity tool. In other words, this is REALLY important for me! Second point, Twitter funkiness (like Second Life funkiness) is not unusual, so at first I did not realize this was anything beyond the typical.
After a few hours I started to get worried and was digging a little harder to figure out the problem. That was when I realized my account was gone – I tried to go to my profile page, and oops! no one home. Ahem. Lucky for me, at that shocking moment, I happened to be on the phone with a Twitter friend who was able to make enquiries on my behalf.
I tried to report the problem through official channels, discovering that at least one other person had the same problem.
Taking a closer look at the official complaint page started by @tibbon, it was very clear that this problem was not being taken seriously. @Tibbon had been told, basically, that it must be his fault. He had been trying rather frantically for several hours to get assistance, and had been told it would probably take a week for them to get to his problem.
Get Satisfaction: Twitter: Account deleted/banned with no reasoning: http://getsatisfaction.com/twitter/topics/account_deleted_banned_with_no_reasoning
All kinds of alarms went off. I had just been asked to demo Twitter (among other social techs) at an important upcoming meeting. Wait a week? For them to just look at the problem? Ummm, that could be a REAL problem! I still did the right thing, added my own comments to the page, and waited for a response.
Meanwhile, @ev had replied to my friend and said he was looking into it. We thought, oh, we’ll hear more soon.
Now, consider that none of the normal paths for Twitter problems were open to me. There was no way to send a Tweet to the right folks for help. Their emails are secret (rightly so), so there was no way to send an email. Going to the help page put me in a loop I had already attempted, and which was not working for @tibbon. There was no information on the Twitter Blog, nor on the status page.
Idea: Use social media to troubleshoot a social media problem. I thought it would be interesting to report out on the social media that was used to try to get the attention of Twitter brought to the problem. My first plurk on the topic was around 9:30PM. I kept describing the problem, and after a few hours, was feeling quite concerned that there had been no further reply.
Plurk, 1:30am, pfanderson:
Plurk, 3am, davedelaney:
As I was unsure whether plurking would reach the right people, I also tried to think of who I knew in other social networks that were also in Twitter and might be willing to send a message on my/our behalf. I started bookmarking relevent pages and discussions in Delicious, adding notes begging people to send Ev a message.
Before I actually went to bed, I saw this picked up by bloggers who were not victims, and both Dave and I had written our own first blogposts on the topic (Dave’s / Mine). As the first victim, @Tibbon had blogged this earlier in the day.
Blogs: The Little One (Kristen):
Someone on Plurk (I think it was LEMills) said she’d Digg this, and someone did.
As the night went on, people discovered more and more folk who had been banned (suspended, deleted, blocked, what have you). I don’t know if it was luck or not, but I found myself in really good company for the group of folks who had been banned. @Tibbon was friends with Jeff Pulver and Chris Brogan, which got him reinstated quickly. Chris Brogan posted discussion to FriendFeed about this.
By 2AM, we were seeing the story starting to make its way through the Plurk and Twitter communities. I went to bed seeing tweets show up in the Twitter Search (Summize) that folks missed us and were hoping our accounts would be back in the morning.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t what happened. I awoke int the morning to more discussions, more victims of the problem, and still no response from anyone official at Twitter. We kept working at it, with the awareness of the problem and concerns of lack of communication from Twitter spreading across the social media. At that point, it was letting the community work at the problem, and continuing to keep information up to date – sharing responses, new strategies and tips for verifying the decency of the victims, and identities of new victims as they were discovered.
Late Saturday afternoon, Jason Goldman from Twitter officially came on the case and started actively working for a solution. At this point, things became hopeful, and seemed to move very quickly. Within and hour, they seemed to have figured out what happened. Portions of solutions came into place literally within a matter of a few hours. But that is another story. This was the story of how the story penetrated other social media.
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