Twitter Jail

935 wc

This has been a weird day since I woke up. First, I slept all the way through the night without any interruptions from my cat, dog, bladder, or back pain, which is quite rare these days. The encroaching darkness and change of the seasons is at peak strangeness right now where I live, so all day the lighting and temperature has felt off. Then Twitter apparently decided to screw me over for no apparent reason.

Somewhere around 2 pm, I noticed that Tweetdeck just stopped updating. Normally there is a constant stream of activity from at least one column all day, every day. I thought Twitter had gone down.

I logged into the Twitter web site to find this:

Nice.

I went through the thing. It required me to enter a phone number, to which they texted a code which I had to enter. Standard security stuff. Except I’ve never wanted to tie phone numbers to my Twitter accounts. Who would?

Anyway my normal Tweetdeck activities resumed as before, so I went into my Twitter account and deleted the phone number it unhelpfully plugged in there against my will.

I searched all through Twitter and my emails to find any communication from Twitter about why they may have nuked my account, and found nothing whatsoever.

A little while later, the same thing happened again. Tweetdeck stopped updating. I went to the Twitter web page, and was informed my account was locked again. I did the same thing again, only this time I just left my phone number there. I assumed it was a new requirement, because all the Big Tech Places are moving toward requiring phone numbers now.

Again, everything went back to normal, I resumed my day. I changed my account password, though.

As evening rolled around, I noticed that Tweetdeck was behaving strangely again. My news and politics timeline was scrolling by as before, but my gaming timeline was curiously silent. I went to the Twitter web site again and found this:

Super neat.

I didn’t do that.

I did unfollow about 40 accounts this weekend that I thought were stale and/or I didn’t recognize. None of them were following me, as far as I could tell, so I don’t expect they would have even noticed. (If I did accidentally unfollow someone by mistake, let me know.)

But I definitely didn’t unfollow everyone.

I used the “who.unfollowed.me” site to do some of those unfollows, which I thought was a reputable site, but today, for some reason, does not load. (I used it because it shows a handy list of people you are following that do not follow you back.) Perhaps that is a related factor. I’ve revoked access to it.

Some Googling has revealed that all of this behavior is consistent with Twitter’s automated AI stepping in and neutralizing my account because it believes I’m a bot and/or I’ve broken some terms of service. I have no idea what I might have done, and as far as I know, I’ve not done anything.

I went through all my Twitter accounts, changed the passwords, logged out of everything, and revoked access to every single thing I could find. Maybe someone gained access to my account and did something, although I’ve seen no evidence of that. I’ve seen no tweets or DMs anywhere that I didn’t write.

There are only two recent tweets I can think of that might have triggered an AI response based on their content, and it’s a pretty big stretch. Last night I made a joke:

I suppose it’s within the realm of possibility that Big Brother thought I was fomenting anti-American sentiment there, or perhaps colluding with Russians. (I wasn’t.)

Perhaps it was this, from yesterday:

I can see where an idiotic AI might conclude this was extremist anti-vaxxer rhetoric and try to shut me down. (It’s not.) In fact, it was just an idle thought. I plan to get a flu shot. (Unless I forget.) Everyone else should get a flu shot, too. And vaccinated.

The only other thing I can figure is this: I was somewhat taken aback by how much negative pushback I received when I mused about Astellia Online’s one-year anniversary, which I didn’t realize had just occurred. Maybe there’s some secret cabal of gamers out there who hate Astellia Online with such a burning passion that they’ll report anyone who even mentions it, and maybe all those reports triggered Twitter jail for me.

Other than that, I’m pretty clueless about what I did wrong. I suppose I’m just collateral damage in the full-scale information war being waged on the Internet right now.

Anyway, this post is just to assure everyone that I didn’t unfollow hundreds of people on purpose.

I don’t really know what to do now. Will my follows come back if I wait long enough? (Probably not.) Should I contact Twitter? (Probably a waste of time, as I’m sure they would ignore any messages from an account as small as mine.) Should I just delete Twitter and never come back? (Definitely, but it’s still my primary information source.)

If I have to manually re-follow everyone, it’s going to be a long, painful process, because I don’t have a list anywhere.

Maybe this is the universe’s way of telling me I should finally go through with that name change I’ve been meaning to do for years.

UPDATE: I started to see tweets in my timeline again later that night, and all of my follows returned the next morning. Setting up multiple accounts again in Tweetdeck is more of a chore than I remember, though.

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