Friday, 15 February 2013

Twitter's Catch-22

On Sunday 10th February I collated tweets I had sent or had been sent to me in relation to disability bias at the BBC and referrals to the BBC Trust in a Storify. This was only my second attempt at creating a Storify narrative. I had referred to or quoted some two hundred folk. I assumed that the etiquette is to inform all those mentioned that they are included, in case they wish to raise any objections or caveats. So I began sending tweets apprising them. I eventually completed the task and a couple of hours later my account was suspended just as I was reading the "Twitter Rules".

Twitter did not send me any communication explaining what had happened and the reasons therefor, so I went to the help area and lodged an appeal, as apparently this is what one is supposed to do. In response to the appeal, I received the following email.

10th February

We understand that you're contesting an account suspension. Please be sure to read this entire email; you will need to take further action in order to reopen your ticket and trigger a review of your account.
Twitter suspends accounts for a variety of reasons:
• If your account was suspended for aggressive following behavior, you should have received an email notification to the address associated with your Twitter account. You'll need to confirm that you've removed all prohibited following automation from your account, and will stop any manual aggressive following behavior. To expedite your appeal process, please review our Best Practices page if you haven't already, and then reply to this ticket with a confirmation that you understand our policies and will not engage in any prohibited following behavior.
• Please take a minute to review the Twitter Rules.
• If you received an email from saying 'you're being suspended' or that we're going delete your account, you're safe; the email is fake. More information here
• While we strive to avoid mistakes, it's also possible that your account was suspended in error. If after reviewing the Rules, you have no idea why your account was suspended, just reply to this email indicating as much, and we'll take another look at your case. Our apologies if the error turns out to be ours.
Twitter Support

So I replied:

10th February

Can you apprise me of the problem and how to put it aright, as per request. From my twitter a/c you will see I have already checked rules & regs, just before you suspended the a/c.


[Image description: Twitter logo on smartphone screen surrounded by water droplets which could be construed as tears. © unknown,]

There was then no further communication from Twitter until...

12th February

This account was suspended for sending multiple unsolicited messages using the @reply and/or mention feature. These features are intended to make communication between people on Twitter easier. Twitter monitors the use of these features to make sure they are used as intended and not for abuse. Using either feature to post messages to a bunch of users in an unsolicited or egregious manner is considered an abuse of its use, which results in account suspension.
For more information about these features, please visit our @Replies and Mentions help page:
Your account will be unsuspended within 24 hours. Please note that it may take an hour or so for your follower and following numbers to return to normal.
Be sure to review the Twitter Rules, as repeat violations may result in permanent suspension:
Thank you,
Twitter Support

I then attempted to gain clarity as Twitter's response did not really answer my query, in my opinion of course.

12th February

Dear Twitter Support,

Well, as you have not been specific about which tweets you are referring to, I cannot fully defend myself.

Whilst the tweets may have been unsolicited - all tweets are unsolicited, it is their very nature. However, I deny that any of my tweets are egregious. On the rare occasions I swear I use symbols to block out letters and do not consider that any of my tweets could be construed abusive. I have remained courteous at all times.

My tweets are directed at all my followers or specifically at individuals who might be interested due to their interests or positions. As you have failed to give concrete examples of any problems, it is difficult for me to know exactly what the issue(s) is(are).

As I have already advised you, you suspended my account just after I had finished reading the rules; so I very much doubt I shall find any help there.

No-one I have contacted has ever said they objected to one of my tweets and if anyone (or more than one!) has blocked me, I am assuming I would be informed of that. That being so, as far as I am aware I have not been blocked.

Whenever I come across spammers, I have blocked them and apprised you thus exercising my civic duty.

As the point of twitter is surely to network and share information, which is all I have been doing, I cannot see what issue you take with my tweets. I behave in the twittersphere as I would in the real world: with politeness, honesty and where possible humour.

I iterate that without your being more specific, it will be impossible for me to behave as you would have me. Please therefore provide me with a fuller explanation, than thus far given, as well as detailed guidance on how to avoid pitfalls.


My attempt at gaining clarification was to all intents and purposes bounced.

12th February

You tried to update a request that has been closed. Please submit a new request at You can also visit our help center at for self-help solutions to common problems. Thanks!

I did as I was told, and once again I was bounced.

12th February

If you're writing in about criquaer being suspended, this account is not currently suspended; please review any previous communications from Twitter for clarification about what the reason for the suspension may have been.
If you are writing in about an account other than criquaer being suspended, please refile the ticket from the suspended account.
If you are writing in about an issue other than your account being suspended -- including if you believe your account to have been deactivated or compromised -- please refile a ticket via the appropriate form; you'll find the forms at
Twitter Support

In effect, Twitter has made it impossible for me to truly determine what the problem is/was. I suspect it could be related to my Storify, but as Twitter have not been specific, I cannot be sure of this. Whilst, in future, I can refrain from apprising folk of their inclusion in a Storify - which seems both rude and impolite to me - if this is not the problem, I am very much likely to again commit the "egregious" travesty.

Twitter, has left me in a Catch-22 situation. All tweets one initiates are unsolicited, by their very nature. I doubt very much that sending less than two hundred tweets (as up to three folk were included per tweet) could in any reasonable person's mind be described as "egregious".

Either Twitter is a space to share ideas & information and to network or it is not, in which case what is the point of Twitter?

Sunday, 3 February 2013

BBC Trust Refuses to Answer Complaints

Not only has the BBC taken more than the ten days they say they will need to reply, the Beeb has refused to answer the complaints raised in my blog, What's Wrong with the BBC's Disability Coverage?, and, furthermore, the institution has also included what I perceive as a veiled threat to publicise their response. However, given that the response is necessarily in the public interest, I publish their unexpurgated reply below. One might also wonder why the BBC cannot respond to my complaint as made. It seems to me their refusal is simply a bureaucratic means to avoid accountability. What does the reader think?

It might also be noteworthy that replies have not been forthcoming to tweets sent to the BBC Trust on the same matter.

Is it just my perspective, or does it appear the BBC has something to hide?

[Received Sunday 3rd February 2012 at 12.26]

Dear Mr Hunter

Reference ***-*******-******

Thanks for contacting the BBC.

Whilst we appreciate you getting in touch with us, in terms of the BBC's complaints process, you'll understand that we are unable to make reference to any comments published on any blog.

If you wish to formally register a personal complaint about specific and recent BBC programmes or services with us, we must ask that you explain to us yourself via our webform the nature of your unhappiness and what specific programming or specific output on what specific dates, or what specific policies or published BBC Editorial Guidelines you feel are involved.

Only then would be able to review your complaint and to investigate it in line with the our published complaints framework, and provide you with an individual and personal response to any concerns.

In closing, we note that you mention that our reply will be published on your blog and elsewhere, but as you will be aware copyright within published works - such as any reply email we may send you - rests with the author of that work rather than the recipient, and permission to reproduce cannot be assumed and is not automatically granted.

Thanks for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

Mark Roberts

BBC Complaints