Twitter's Account-Suspending Spree

Mallory Scudder | @MalloryScudder Lately it seems Twitter is being, dare I say, temperamental. It has been on an account-suspending spree under the pretense of “cleaning up spam.” Don’t get me wrong; I am ALL about getting rid of spam, but plenty of legitimate company accounts are being suspended, landing them in Twitter jail, and getting them back is quite a hassle.

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The following are a few of the reasons your account could be considered spam and suspended, according to Twitter:

  • If you have followed and/or unfollowed large amounts of users in a short time period, particularly by automated means (aggressive following or follower churn);
  • If you repeatedly follow and unfollow people, whether to build followers or to garner more attention for your profile;
  • If your updates consist mainly of links, and not personal updates;
  • Randomly or aggressively favoriting Tweets through automation in an attempt to bring attention to an account, service or link; or
  • Randomly or aggressively Retweeting accounts through automation in an attempt to bring attention to an account, service or link.

It seems like most of the accounts being suspended are companies trying to boost their branding and marketing. These companies are following interested parties, arguably in the hopes of being followed back. What's the big deal there? Isn't that sort of what Twitter is for? Just like you and me, brands want to gain followers. The more followers a brand has, the larger the audience (and potential customer base) it is reaching. How can businesses possibly be punished for that? It’s not like brands are forcing users to follow them back. On the contrary, the beauty of Twitter is that if you don’t have to follow a brand just because it is following you. Plus you only see the content of those that you follow. In effect, you can limit how much information -- and spam -- you receive by limiting how many accounts you follow.

Many businesses use social media management platforms such as SocialOomph or Tweepi to manage some of the tedious tasks of searching for potential followers, following them, and unfollowing those who do not seem to be interested. However, it doesn't seem to matter whether or not a third party management site is being used.

Twitter claims that there is no "magic number" that defines "aggressively following," giving Twitter  the liberty to decide which accounts to suspend. In my experience, “aggressively following” has meant adding 50 people a day. Since Twitter does not provide a concrete number or definition of “aggressively” following or retweeting, they can basically choose to suspend an account at any time. That's like a police officer issuing a speeding ticket with no posted speed limit!

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Increasingly, Twitter handles and hashtags are appearing on commercials, TV shows, billboards, movies, you name it...all of which are used for marketing. What's more, according to Simply Measured, a social media analytics company, some 30 percent of America's largest companies are using Twitter. So why doesn't Twitter provide specific guidelines for brands (give us the magic number!) or establish special ones for company accounts? With so many Twitter accounts belonging to brands, Twitter would do well to establish concrete guidelines for businesses to abide by instead of arbitrarily suspending accounts in the interest of protecting users from spam.

Social Media News: July 26th

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