Banned from Twitter - and I'm not even a President

Banned from Twitter - and I'm not even a President

Something strange is happening on Twitter - and few people are talking about it. Thousands of users have been frozen out the service, and Twitter is refusing to tell them why.

This isn't just a first-world problem that affects a couple of social media addicts. Twitter has sold itself as the place to raise awareness of your business, so thousands of artists, publications and shops depend on it.

Twitter wants big businesses to be using their platform, but to thank them, Twitter is now making some users pass a verification test that is impossible.

As a result innocent users are having their accounts suspended, and when they turn to Twitter for help, all they get is an automated promise that it will get looked in to. No actual assistance, or explanation, is offered.

Here's how I found out about it: one day, I was using the Twitter app and it interrupted me to say I needed to verify my phone number. It did this for all of my business accounts.

On two of the accounts, it said my text verification wasn't enough, and now I needed to take a phone call from them. So I pressed "call me". And nothing happened.

Nothing happened because the system doesn't work. Thousands of people have complained about it over the years, especially recently.

Sorry, the request failed. Please try again later.
The Twitter verification test that people can't pass.

After two weeks of being unable to get past the "call me" button, Twitter's security system kicked in and suspended my account. Now it lets me log in to the account, which is weird, but I'm banned from using it.

As this is a business account, it's not exactly a good look for our customers.

At this point I had already contacted Twitter Support. You have to fill out a load of forms, which lead to an automated email, which tells you to fill out another form. It goes on.

If you try to get clever by using a different contact form, you'll find that many of them end with an error that makes you start again, or tells you to enter all your information again in a different form. Anyone would think this is deliberate.

Eventually I received an email telling me that a human would look into it for me. That was five weeks ago.

Whenever I try to get an update, Twitter's automated system tells me I have to wait.

Twitter Support please do not reply to this email
The only response I have had from Twitter in two months.

Again, this isn't just a one-man rant. A quick look at Twitter reveals there are thousands of people who say they have been waiting months for Twitter to fix its issue.

A few of these are included below. I realise that some of them will be lying about not breaking the rules or exaggerating how long they've been waiting - that's ordinary life in customer service - but I know for a fact that some of these are real because it's happened to me.

Meanwhile, one user on Reddit claims they contacted the US Better Business Bureau, who said they would have to close the case because Twitter wouldn't reply to them.

I asked Twitter to reply to the allegations I have made. I contacted them by email in October and tweeted several official Twitter accounts. But they did not reply.

We know that Twitter have previously said that their support team are being hindered by new security procedures following the infamous hack in July 2020. That's understandable, but surely they could at least acknowledge that they are accidentally blocking legitimate accounts or that they are several months behind on emails.

Twitter Support have hardly been silent over the summer - they've been busy promoting the most minor of changes. Yet the replies to those tweets make it clear that people are only worried about one thing. It would be nice if Twitter Support could reply to one of them.

Personal update: After sending @TwitterSupport no less than 144 tweets with my case number, including politely-worded threats to visit their office, they finally unsuspended my business account. They did provide an apology and a vague explanation.

I don't know if the tweets helped, or if it was a coincidence. Sadly this strategy only worked because nobody else was doing it.

My account was locked for four months. Some people have reported that theirs was unlocked after two months, others have been waiting six months. There are rumours - and it is only a rumour - that every time you email Twitter Support, your case goes to the back of the queue. If that's true, and it sounds unlikely, that would explain why some people have to wait longer than others.

Legally bland

Any similarities with real-life events or wealthy international firms is probably coincidental. No products endorsed. I'm powered by Monster Munch.

© 2021 Johnathan Randall.