There’s a story I’ve been meaning to share.
It’s not easy to tell, but it’s important.
Without any warning, Twitter temporarily suspended my travel community Twitter account.
As someone who evangelizes the POWER OF GOOD on social media, who has championed Twitter, and who has been a social media professional for 8+ years, it was a hard pill to swallow.
- Twitter is where I launched my first ever CultureTrav Twitter chat in November 2014.
- It’s where I’ve connected with new friends, and built my community.
- Twitter is where I continue to be inspired by the #traveltribe and other creatives who support each other, and post meaningful stories.
How could Twitter, where I’ve personally witnessed so much inherent good, punish a well-meaning account?
Truth is, it’s more common than you may realize, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be given any rationale for it. In fact, after numerous appeals and outreach to Twitter Support, the only “communications” I ever received were automated email responses. I even wrote to someone on LinkedIn, and *crickets.*
All-together it took weeks before my Twitter account got restored. Then, from one day to the next, it was back.
Based on other people’s stories, this is a fast timeline. One person told me their account has been suspended for 5 months, and they’ve almost given up hope. Several of my friends have also had (temporary) account suspensions on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Appealing a temporary Twitter Account Suspension
So, what can you do when a social media network suspends your account?
Aside from making the necessary, continuous appeals to their “decision,” I also recommend taking a break from it to minimize stress, and …above all, asking others for help.
I received an overwhelming amount of support (and love) from the traveler community. After publishing about my account suspension, people reached out via tweets, texts and DMs to share their own experiences and advice. Friends and strangers retweeted the original tweet. Friends reached out to Twitter Support taking them to task and asking for an account restoration. The solidarity was heartwarming. It’s not something I will ever take for granted.
I’m convinced that there’s a lot of power in being part of a community, and the voices of many cannot be ignored (even if an algorithm doesn’t catch it, a human may).
Why did this happen to my Twitter account?
I still don’t know why the temporary suspension happened, or what caused it. A glitch? A hyper-sensitive algorithm? Abuse of the reporting process?
There are certainly reasons why Twitter can flag an account, i.e. due to high amounts of activity, spam, hate speech, impersonations, automations, etc. But, I can tell you I didn’t engage in these types of behaviors.
As a Twitter chat host, I’ve temporarily landed in “Twitter jail” before for probably exceeding the amount of daily tweets. If spreading messages of positivity, travel inspiration and retweeting others’ content is a crime, then I’m a willing “felon.”
Now, it seems futile to speculate about the WHY in this case, as I can’t expect a specific answer.
There’s a dangerous side to social media where conspiracy theorists, spammers, bots and other ill-advised accounts roam free, without consequence. If you haven’t watched the Social Dilemma on Netflix, I recommend it. I found it enlightening yet difficult to watch because of the psychological mind games that are at play.
Social media tech giants have promised time and again to:
1) “stand up for free speech” (Zuckerberg)
2) protect us against the spread of misinformation/fake news
3) protect against the interference in elections, and more.
Yet, they wrongfully suspend well-meaning accounts. Who will hold them to account?
I’m not naive, and I do not expect major systemic changes to happen within these companies (at least not at this time).
But, I’m hopeful that change for social good CAN happen.
Why am I sharing this about my Twitter account?
I want to offer my support, and answer questions.
I will be here to help, listen, and give advice, just like so many in the travel community did for me.
While we can silently appeal decisions, I believe we should also rally behind each other to right wrongs and restore accounts.
Have you ever faced a (temporary) suspension? I’d love to hear about it.