Some days you wake up and it seems you have the Midas Touch; all that you are involved in seems golden, warm, and bright. On other days, you wonder if you drew the short straw for the Kafka experiment o’ the day. This is a story of a Kafka day – November 22, 2011, to be exact – the day Twitter decided to suspend my @magisterrex account. This came as quite a surprise, as up to this point I had been a good Twitter citizen, engaging my fellow Twits, participating in the #FollowFriday phenomenon, refusing to use the “get 1000 followers in one day!” type software, and so forth. All I received was a screen that told me the account was suspended. No emails, no direct message, no warning, no explanation.
The first thing I did – besides saying “WTF?” to myself – was to click on the “please visit Suspended Accounts” link. It seemed the logical thing to do, and besides, all the stern words to my monitor seemed to be accomplishing nothing of discernible value. The link brought me to Twitter’s online customer support page with information on what a suspension was and how to contest it.
After reading the page, and still foolishly optimistic, I continued through the process of contesting my suspension. I thought that, at the very least, an explanation would be helpful so that if my account was exhibiting tetchy behavior, I could correct it. So off to the generic “so you want to contact a warm body at Twitter” form I went.
I don’t know if you caught the “With love” salutation just before the field you put your full name in, but when I saw it I thought, “wow, I’m an upset customer and you’re trying to get me to hold hands and sing Kumbaya”. I don’t know of too many folks who still have a lot of love in their hearts for a faceless corporate entity while it messes with them, but maybe I associate with the wrong folks. (It seems more like something that came out of an all-night session with the marketing Douche-o-Matic™, actually.) At any rate, I filled out a brief request for either an explanation for the suspension or the lifting thereof, and carried on. I then received the following:
Great! Someone will be getting back to me! Time to sit down and work on other projects, and wait for some kind soul at Twitter customer service to find my request in their virtual paper stack. Patience is a virtue, right? Except the response came within five minutes. And the response was a “form letter” email, closing the ticket as fast it was opened. That’s right, you can contest or question the suspension of your Twitter account all you want, except you don’t need to worry about actually ever being treated as anything more than what you are: an easily replaceable commodity. Closing the help ticket within five minutes and telling me that I should reread all the screens of “helpful” information shows an appalling lack of customer service. At this point I realized that Twitter does NOT have a customer service department at all, but simply a computerized no-help-whatsoever form letter generator designed to keep Twits wandering in the virtual desert.
Still, I decided to respond to the form mail. Why not? In for a penny, in for a p0und, as they say. So another brief request was dutifully recorded at the top of my response (in the required section). Perhaps, I reasoned, this was Twitter’s way of keeping the lazy people out of the help stream! So off the email response flew, and I sat by my computer, waiting for some keen mind from Twitter’s customer support staff to lend succor in my time of need. Well, I stopped waiting by my computer when I got a little hungry. And then I started to record the days that passed, much like a prisoner scratches Roman numerals onto the wall to mark the passing of the days. I’ve managed to record an “X” now, with a full 10 days passing, and not so much as a peep from Twitter in response. Something tells me that I could be waiting until a cryogenic specialist is needed in the infernal netherworld. Oh well, I guess there’s always Google+…