Saturday, June 15, 2013

Suspended From Twitter: A Survival Story

How important is your Twitter account to you? How many times a day do you open your Twitter app and scroll through your news feed? What would you do if you checked your account one day and found all of your followers and followings down to zero? Well, that's what happened to me. Here is my story.

I love Twitter. I am on it constantly. It's where I get my news, where I communicate and it's where I go to pass the time. I have a modest amount of Twitter followers at 270-something and I am following about 590 people. Three days ago, I went into my Twitter account and it was all down to 0. I didn't panic right away. Instead, I checked my account through my wife's phone.

"This account is forbidden."

We're experiencing heavy turbulence. Make sure your seat backs and tray tables are upright and in a locked position.

Wait, what? Forbidden?!?!? I never post anything that is distasteful, nor do I Tweet profanity. Perhaps I was hacked? Nope. All of my recent Tweets were from me. Innocent and lighthearted posts with the occasional retweet all done by yours truly. And now, my sanctuary had been stripped away from me. I was exiled from the virtual community of my favorite social media outlet.

There had to be some mistake! Maybe my account wasn't working on mobile devices. I logged in on my laptop with my fingers crossed. "This account has been suspended."

Let the panicking begin.. 

My wife tried to calm me down in my miniature state of grief. To quote a famous figure skater, "Why me?!?!?" I couldn't believe this was happening. I had absolutely no idea why I would ever have any reason to be suspended from Twitter.

The message on my Twitter homepage said to click on a link to receive an email from Twitter support and so I did. Before I sent my email, I checked the internet and I found that many people have had the same problem. One guy said that he emailed them every day, multiple times a day and it took over 6 weeks before he got a response. 6 weeks!?!?!

We just lost cabin pressure.

I quickly checked my inbox and found an email from Twitter. It was delivered automatically and it said if I want to dispute the suspension, I needed to review the Twitter rules and respond to the email stating what I did wrong and tell them I wouldn't do it again. They also mentioned that from time to time, they make a mistake and suspend accounts on accident.

I emailed them back politely and with as much professionalism as I could in my messed up state of grace. I needed my account back and I would do just about anything at this point to retrieve it. I clicked send like I was sending away a messenger bird. Hopefully it would find its recipient in a timely manner. All I could do was wait. So I did what anyone who is addicted to Twitter would do when their Twitter account is down: Facebook and Candy Crush Saga.

I'll never make it.

Days passed but it seemed like months. I felt like I was missing out on so much and I was helpless. I felt like the guy on death row who was wrongly accused of a crime he didn't commit. All I could do was hope and pray that my S.O.S. email would be reviewed promptly by Twitter and my account would be restored.

Breathe, Dino.

So I went on with my new daily routine of checking Facebook way too often and crushing as much candy as I could. It wasn't all that bad, actually. It was like being on vacation and not having any cellular service. At first, you panic, but as time passes, it's a relief. It was a sense of freedom in a weird kind of way. When I was picking up my daughter from school on the playground, I just stood there and enjoyed the beautiful weather instead of having my face buried into the screen of my iPhone 5. I kind of got used to this unexpected change of pace. And then it happened. My S.O.S. was answered three days after I sent out my initial distress call.

"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."

Echo base? This is Rogue 2. I found them. Repeat. I found them.

With in minutes my Twitter account was back up and running. My news feed was functioning like a charm and my numbers were back to normal. It was time to shake the three day old dust off and return to my normal Social Media routine. I was back!

It's kind of scary to think of how wrapped up we become in our smart phones and social media outlets. This experience was somewhat of a rude awakening for me and I learned a lot. First, take time away from your smart phone and start enjoying the things around you. Second, appreciate what you have. Validate what is important to you. Tomorrow is promised to no one. That includes your Twitter account.