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Adventures in Twitterland: You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Today is Twitter’s Coming Out Party with what could be 2013’s Biggest IPO. By the closing bell today, the U.S. probably will have a couple new billionaires. As one commenter on USA Today’s site noted, "I can’t get into the IPO. I’m too busy tweeting." Unfortunately, we’re not.

Having just returned from a quick visit to New York earlier this week, we were greeted by the following message when we logged into our Twitter account:

Why is my account suspended? Well, it could be that you’ve violated "The Twitter Rules" or maybe Twitter suspects that your account was hacked or compromised. I’m reminded of the old playground adage: It’s For Me To Know and You to Find Out. Urban Dictionary has an interesting take on what that really means.

Imagine if you will that you’re walking down the street in your favorite town minding your own business when a cop grabs you by the collar and says, "You’re under arrest." The natural inclination would be to ask why. Rather than tell you, the police officer hands you a copy of the municipal code with the admonition that you can always appeal.

Welcome to The World According to Twitter. Here you are assumed to know what you did wrong. And, if you don’t like the consequences, you can file "an appeal" after reading "The Rules". All of that, of course, is perfectly fine if you actually broke "The Rules" and know what you did. Joseph Heller couldn’t have made this up. If you’ve read Catch 22, you’ll recall that "the term was introduced by Doc Daneeka, an army psychiatrist who invokes ‘Catch 22’ to explain why any pilot requesting mental evaluation for insanity — hoping to be found not sane enough to fly and thereby escape dangerous missions [during World War II] — demonstrates his own sanity in making the request and thus cannot be declared insane."

We, of course, use Twitter for fun and to support our open source projects so there’s no financial hardship from Twitter’s antics while we endure "the appellate process." But, put yourself in the position of a business person with thousands of followers and suppose you actually used Twitter to announce new products and merchandise sales. Don’t!

As you can see from the screenshot above, all of a sudden you have 0 Followers. So your entire business model is basically down the toilet at the sole discretion of Twitter. In case you’re curious, no, we haven’t violated any of Twitter’s rules. We still used to send a couple of tweets a day as we have since opening our account years ago. Has our account been hacked? Obviously not. We still can get into it, and there are no tweets from us offering you a million bucks for managing some African prince’s business affairs.

In becoming a public company today, one would hope this situation will be addressed. But then I’m reminded of our Comcast adventures and some of the horror stories you hear about Facebook, and it’s probably safe to conclude that the Borg was probably right: "Resistance is futile." We’ve been patiently waiting 2 days for "our appeal" to be processed. We’ll let you know if we ever hear anything further. In the meantime, I’d hold off on that Twitter stock purchase.

If you happen to have a (working) Twitter account, do us and your friends a favor. Send a tweet to your followers about this article by clicking on the link below. Happy Tweeting!

1 p.m. Update. Surprise! Well, we’re back… kinda, sorta. Twitter let us out of jail but kept our pants and car keys. Following = 0, Followers = 0. No call. No email. Not even a tweet. Love means never having to say you’re sorry. Nice!

2:30 p.m. Update. Pants and car keys returned. Thanks a billion, Twitter. You’re the best.

Originally published: Thursday, November 7, 2013