The Never-ending Twitter Ordeal

As you might guess from the fact that I’m @peter on Twitter, I was a pretty early adopter. In fact, I signed up almost immediately after the service went live. For the past three years I’ve enjoyed using the service, and it’s been fascinating to see its evolution.

Imagine my surprise, then, when nine days ago I woke up to discover that Twitter had suspended my account. I received no notice from them, and there was no apparent reason for the suspension. I’ve only ever evangelized Twitter to all my friends, and I’ve never done anything shady, so I figured the suspension must have been an accident.

Now, I know some people who work at Twitter, and even a few of their investors. But I also know the Twitter people are busy folks, so I didn’t try to get special treatment, but instead followed the advice on their site and submited a support ticket, alerting them to the fact that I was accidentally suspended.

Well, no sooner had I submitted that support ticket and refreshed the page than the ticket was marked “solved”. But my account was still suspended! No response, no explanation, and no solution – they just auto-closed my ticket.

So I reopened the ticket with a puzzled reply, and started to wait.

Three days later I still hadn’t heard a thing, so I emailed suspended@twitter.com to explain my situation. And I waited some more.

The next day I got a reply from Twitter saying that a bunch of accounts had recently been suspended, but that they should now be back to normal. Unfortunately, my account was still suspended. So I replied again, and waited…

Fast forward to today (9 days later). Still not a peep from Twitter. Fortunately, though, they’re located in SF, and I happened to be near their office, so I popped in to visit my friends there. I explained my situation, and my kind friend took pity on me and chatted with the support folks. Soon after I left the Twitter office, my account was reinstated. Hooray!

Sort of…

I’m finally back in the twitterverse, but now I have a new problem: none of the people I follow show up in my timeline. But if I unfollow and “re-follow” someone, they start showing up. I’m hoping the problem will fix itself, since I really, really don’t want to have to re-add all 490 people whom I was following before.

(sigh)

I like Twitter. I’ve always seen its usefulness and have evangelized it to friends who often scoffed as I sang its praises. As one of its very first users I’ve been through a lot with it – chronic down time, beloved features that have come and gone, user backlash, “Oprah-fication”. I’m still a fan, but there definitely comes a point when it starts to lose some of its luster.

This recent suspension, being so random, unexplained and unnecessary, definitely took the shine off of Twitter for me. And while I’m sure the good people in the support department are inundated and overworked, I’ve had nothing but horrible experiences with Twitter’s customer service. This was not my first time submitting a help ticket. Two previous, unrelated help requests were never even answered and still remain unsolved months later.

I understand that Twitter’s still a free service and expectations should be adjusted accordingly, but when you alienate your user base – especially early adopters and evangelists, that’s never a good thing. I’m crossing my fingers that maybe something will change for the better. But honestly, I don’t have high hopes, and that makes me sad.

[update: major thanks to my friend, Helga, without whom I might just have gone insane. Thank you!]

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