Twitter and other social media have been in the news lately because of the threat of voter suppression/manipulation in the upcoming elections. U.S. intelligence has said that the Russians interfered in the 2016 elections. There is no question that Donald Trump has put Twitter on the forefront of international and national communications and policy debates. In its knee jerk reaction to what is bad about social media, Twitter has been attempting to get a handle on how its platform is used. In the process it has made a mess.
Most recently, Twitter embarked on trying to fix the problem of jerks on Twitter. It is an ambitious goal because the internet is about trolls mixed in with nuggets of great stuff. The trolls are an endless battle. As my company is a technology provider, we are constantly fighting the scourge of trolls. Especially the Russian kind. We do not envy Twitter trying to battle them.
But in the process of trying to correct the ills of the internet, Twitter is alienating the people it is trying to save from the internet, its users.
Case in point.
One of the services my company provides is managing social media channels on behalf of our clients. To do so, we create social media accounts for our clients. We then post to our clients’ social media channels. From the point of view of platforms like Twitter, we must look like automated bots updating fake accounts. We have a global footprint, so our content creation comes from different IPs in different countries.
I get that.
And, I get that Twitter wants to ensure the bots do not overwhelm their platform.
What I don’t get is that we, as service providers, must jump multiple hurdles to get our clients’ accounts approved while Russian or other bots just continue to popup.
Yesterday morning I logged into my personal Twitter (@martinparedes) to find out I had three new followers. I had checked my Twitter before I went to sleep and about six hours later I already had three new followers.
Wow! Three good looking girls were now following me! Except it’s not what it looks like.
“Mary”, who signed up just a few days ago is likely some fat Russian or other troll using a fake picture as a profile. Likewise, “Alison” who signed up last month and wants to find “Mr right” on Twitter, yeah right. “Amanda” actually made me take a second look because the profile seemed more complete at first glance. But alas, “Amanda,” like the other two pretty girls are just lies, as in fake profiles.
Now my Twitter feed is super small. I have something like 200 followers. So why are there good looking (fake) girls following me?
Because I post about topical political issues and I troll Donald Trump.
Additionally, one of my posts about immigration from a few years ago has gone viral and continues to elicit comments/shares today.
Par for the course. I used to report them to Twitter but after a dozen or so without any feed back from Twitter, I just stopped reporting them and quietly block them. Twitter likely never saw my reports and the report button is just there to make people like me feel better about doing our tiny part to stop the trolls.
But it is what happened next that just made me realize that Twitter has no clue.
I attempted to log into the Twitter account for a project I’m working on.
Twitter wanted me to verify I was human by using a code sent via text to the account’s registered number.
For some time now Twitter has been demanding a textable phone number for new accounts.
This is supposed to curb abuse.
As a service provider, this has added a cumbersome layer to our workflow. Customers come to us because they don’t want to deal with creating accounts. They pay us to do the work for them. Since Twitter started demanding a telephone number, we’ve had to coordinate with clients to provide us the code that Twitter sends them. We very, very rarely meet our clients face-to-face as they are all over the world. Therefore, coordinating the telephone code is cumbersome.
In this case, this is the fourth time I’ve received the notice from Twitter that the account is “displaying suspicious activity” therefore they are demanded another code sent to a phone. The Twitter handle itself showed an ominous “account is temporarily restricted” screen.
You may be asking what “suspicious activity” was it that triggered the third demand for another code.
I am as well.
Well, maybe our content is “suspicious”.
Unless you believe that flexible office space is “suspicious” then there is no reason our activity should be suspicious.
Maybe it is because we don’t have pretty girls smiling on our Twitter feed, you know “eye candy” that is the reason the Twitter handle was tagged as “suspicious”.
I don’t know, but when I get daily follows from Russian trolls masquerading as pretty girls interested in my Twitter posts it makes me think it is time to rethink my Twitter account and post pictures of lady’s nalgas all over it.
Maybe that will get Twitter to stop telling me my Twitter activity is “suspicious” and demanding that I once again prove I am not a Russian bot.
Or, I could just start telling our clients that Twitter is too much trouble and ask them not to use it. Just leave it to the Russians is what I am thinking now.