Twitter Account Suspensions

Sunday, July 5th, 2009: A lot of people with legitimate Twitter accounts are currently suffering from having their accounts suspended (late Sunday afternoon).

It is not TweetLater’s doing or fault. So, please do not submit a TweetLater support request about it.

We just heard back from Twitter via email, and they said : “Spamcloud hit. We’re working on restoring accounts.

We just need to be patient. The suspended accounts will be restored.

Update: We have no idea exactly what a “spam cloud” means. It is probably Twitter staff lingo for a massive spam attack.

Update: We have seen during previous spam attacks that Twitter tends to shoot first and ask questions later and indiscriminately lay down carpet bombing when their system comes under a spam attack. A lot of innocent-bystander accounts get massacred in the process, which they then have to restore afterwards. This is most likely what has happened again.

Update: We have no idea how long it will take Twitter to restore the wrongly suspended accounts. We do not have insight into that information.

Update: Twitter has now posted an update about the suspensions on their status blog.

Earlier today, we accidentally suspended a number of accounts.

We regret the human error that led to these mistaken suspensions and we are working to restore the affected accounts—we expect this to be completed in the next several hours.

One additional note: some the accounts suspended were using the third-party site Tweetlater. However, Tweetlater is not to blame for these suspensions nor is it in violation of our Terms.

Update: It appears that the issue has now been resolved and most suspended accounts have been restored. If your account is still suspended, please submit a support request at http://help.twitter.com and ask them to look at your account.

Post-Mortem by Dewald Pretorius, Owner of TweetLater.com

It is a real pity, but probably unavoidable, that some people have a tendency to jump to premature conclusions. A lot of folks almost immediately blamed TweetLater for the suspensions, and some even canceled their TweetLater accounts.

The reason why many TweetLater users were affected was very simple. We service a very large number of Twitter accounts. At time of writing that number exceeded 100,000 Twitter accounts. If Twitter makes a mistake that affects a large number of accounts, then naturally a large number of TweetLater users will be affected by the mistake.

I work very hard to maintain an excellent working relationship with Alex Payne, Matt Sanford, and Doug Williams of the Twitter API team, and with Del Harvey of the Twitter Spam team. They are always very responsive, professional, and helpful whenever I approach them.

And, I work equally hard to ensure, with the help and advice of the Twitter folks mentioned above, that TweetLater features always remain within the Twitter Terms and never does anything that Twitter frowns upon. TweetLater is my bread and butter, the thing that pays my mortgage. Hence, being a good neighbor of Twitter is absolutely essential, no, it is absolutely non-negotiable to me. I regularly turn down feature requests and offers of large additional payments for some new features, which I know will not sit well with Twitter and potentially jeopardize my service’s standing with Twitter.

The lesson from this is as follows: Things are often much simpler and far more benign than what some people want to believe. Perhaps it’s because conspiracy theories are more interesting, or more sensational, that people want to believe them rather than just the simple mundane truth. I don’t know.

It’s just very frustrating to watch your service, your passion, come under attack when you have done nothing wrong.

Nevertheless, there is also an upside to this matter, and I will conclude with it and close this post on a positive note.

This issue has created an enormous amount of free publicity for TweetLater, which makes me very happy.

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67 thoughts on “Twitter Account Suspensions

  1. James

    Thanks for the update! I was sweating getting my Twitter account back after I saw it suspended today 😦 Makes you realize how much a part of Twitter plays in your day!

  2. Appleton

    I hope what your saying is true, this really would suck of I signed up for tweet later demo and now I have suspended accounts.

  3. momsthoughts

    omg! I could not understand why I was suspended. I am glad to know it had nothing to do with Tweetlater. What the heck is a spamcloud?

  4. ginidietrich

    Thank you for the update! This is the most information I've gotten since earlier today.

  5. Andrea

    People on twitter are talking about unfollowing suspended accounts!! Every moment our accounts are suspended we are losing our reputations.

  6. Beverly

    This is crazy but I am glad to read this article.I was very shocked when I logged on this evening.

  7. Barbara

    Thank you for letting me know what happened and why my account was suspended as I did not do anything against their terms. Hope they get this straightened out soon.

  8. GlobalOpps

    Noticed things were getting bogged down at Twitter yesterday afternoon. Must have been huge “Spam Cloud” started then & they finally had to shut things down just to handle it. Don't know what criteria they used to choose, hope they take care of it fast.

  9. powerlevel

    dangit . . unfortunately i began deleting “tweetlater” accounts before I read this . . i'm furious that they would take a “carpet bomb” approach but I guess they had no choice . . . sure did screw me up and if they dont get it together, there is no reason for me to have a tweetlater account . . . which i pay for.

  10. mims_01

    Gee Thanks for the update, i was wondering what was going on, so how long will it be 😦

  11. GlobalVergeCell

    Dewald Pretorius wrote, in response to GlobalVergeCell:Mate, what exactly does your name being in TweetLater's database have to do with this issue??? Dewald Pretourius ,,,I had access to my twitter accounts before I signed up for tweetlater . I hope I answered your question Mate

  12. Carl Watts

    Does anyone know of a service similar to Twitter? Shooting first and looking later is poor service and I don't want to be subject to their arbitrary unconcern?

  13. Karen

    Thanks for the update. I felt really uspset and confused when I saw my account was suspended. It's extremely dissappointing 😦 , not to mention a bit humiliating! I hope it doesn't take long to get it up and running and get that offensive message off our innocent sites!

  14. Dewald Pretorius

    I have accounts that I have never added to my TweetLater profile and consequently have never been in the TweetLater database, which have also been suspended.

  15. Joan

    Thank you, thank you, this is what I wanted to hear. I got suspended today and have been considering various conspiracy theories to explain it.@Joan_W #inexile

  16. logannathan

    All the accounts I have on tweet later are impacted (meaning suspended). Is this mean the spam cloud you are referring to impacting all the tweet later account holders now! Is this mean that the spam cloud is linked to your API with Twitter hence the suspension of all your twitter account holders? I just hope twitter can verify this and reactivate all of our accounts very quickly! We will be reviewing your updates regularly. Cheers Logan (Sydney, Australia)

  17. Dan Spaventa

    I was relieved to hear that it was not something I did. However, to arbitrarily wipe out everyone is ridiculous. How long is it going to take Twitter to get things cleaned up? This is infuriating. It is disgraceful that NOTHING comes from Twitter on this. Only after you file a re-instatement request do you get some vague e-mail about what you may have done wrong. Are they kidding me?

  18. Dewald Pretorius

    Your banner is scheduled to run on Wednesday. It should be sorted by then. If your account is still suspended on Tuesday evening, please submit a TweetLater support request. I will ask the Twitter staff if they can restore your account before your auction banner is due to run.

  19. chris

    If you put in a request ticket to Twitter and choose the option “suspended account” you get an automatic response that your “request” is solved; but in fact, it isn't and will remain closed until you re-open the request by including a comment.

  20. StoneCS

    Damn, I just wasted a half-hour pleading ignorance to stuff I've been doing…and if they read that, they may just leave mine suspended.8.(…

  21. Michael Stelzner

    Update from Twitter (mentions TweetLater)…Earlier today, we accidentally suspended a number of accounts.We regret the human error that led to these mistaken suspensions and we are working to restore the affected accounts—we expect this to be completed in the next several hours.One additional note: some the accounts suspended were using the third-party site Tweetlater. However, Tweetlater is not to blame for these suspensions nor is it in violation of our Terms.

  22. Sharon Higbee

    I did some research before finding this notice page about the human error. It seems that if we post more scheduled tweets than we do personal updates, our accounts can be suspended. I just added several more scheduled tweets via tweetlater yesterday, so I was probably one of those who was actually in violation without realizing it. So, be careful with your accounts.GDIaffiliates

  23. DenisCampbell

    It was a bloody nightmare. We are a media outlet and were down for almost seven hours. They should be doing more to help us clear up the backlog and sleepless night they caused! Shame on Twitter for their draconian ways and practices. No ability to reach anyone inside the labyrinth and THEY set all the rules and you don't know, until you have broken them, what they are. Judge jury and instant executioner. Here we are in a social network and whilst there is special circle in hell reserved for SPAM merchants, this was ridiculous, costing them goodwill and making it tough for me to recommend to businesses with a straight face that this is a safe platform!

  24. Yvonne van Dyck

    all of my account are restored @thankyoo @idLOOP and @cmoreNLP … does anyone know what made them suspend our accounts? all the best and thankyoo yvonne

  25. fdc013

    Hi all. Yes like u all I was told my account in vioation. I did sent a “come on guys I play by the rules” guess I now know what might have happened and got twitter back up and running, no response to my request, good to see we might win out, likewise I am using it for a business platform mainly.

  26. hells_angel_1

    ITS HAPPENING TO ALL THE SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES, WINDOWS LIVE FOR INSTANCE IS A JOKE, FACE BOOK IS NEARLY JUST AS BAD AND NOW THIS WITH TWITTER…….WHO KNOWS WHAT NEXT?

  27. Elle

    I for one am posting how helpful you have been..and really the only resource that gave any heads up on the situation..period. I also think you do educate and caution people the appropriate way to utilize your services…to not offer Twitter. My learning curve cost me a permanent suspension on one account and my big lesson learned was to not overdo the automation process. Another great tip I found is to Vet all followers..when spammers hit, the autofollow allows them through which can make it appear you are part of it unknowingly. I was spending more time screening and removing (sometimes 30 followers that were obviously the same person) the spam accounts than I do vetting. It also allows me to spend time with the profiles..getting to know people I wouldnt have seen because it was automated.

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