Yesterday, I did something that runs counter to my standard recommendation for clients: I locked my Twitter updates. My move to privacy was one of desperation, not desire.
Twitter has experienced phenomenal growth in recent months. Unfortunately, a large part of that growth is due to an influx of self-proclaimed social media gurus, affiliate marketers and assorted get-rich-quick schemers. Oh, and there’s the porn.
My Twitter account has over 6,000 followers–certainly not celebrity status, but far more than the average user. Because I have been on Twitter since the early days (January 2007 for me), and because I’m very active on a number of social networks, my Twitter following has steadily grown. On an average day I get about 20 new followers and lose at least 15, most of whom are probably using automated services to follow people based on keyword then unfollow those who don’t immediately follow back. (See this post by Kami Huyse (@kamichat) and this podcast from Jim Turner (@genuine) if you’re curious about how people are gaming Twitter to amass followers.)
Each day I go through my list of new followers to see which ones I might be interested in following back. Sad to say, it’s maybe 1 in 20. The rest are trying to sell me something. Or the account has no photo or bio. (I recently quipped that the Twitter equivalent of “no shirt, no shoes, no service” is “no bio, no photo, no follow.”)
Or perhaps the new follower doesn’t appear to share any common interests. Like the one yesterday whose Twitter bio mentioned necrophilia. Isn’t that charming.
The last straw was learning that my friend CJ Romberger’s Twitter account had been hacked by a porn spammer. If you try to access her Twitter page, you see an error message: “that page does not exist.” Her account was taken over, the user name was changed, and tweets with links to porn started appearing in her timeline. The same thing happened to Guy Kawasaki and others.
Guy was evidently able to post to his Twitter account again late yesterday, but CJ is still locked out. I don’t expect her problem to be resolved any time soon, given Twitter’s track record of customer service. Bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon had her Twitter account hijacked about six weeks ago, the day before her latest book was released. Instead of porn, the hacker started posting insults and threats.
Kenyon filled out a Twitter form to report the problem, filed a police report, and her lawyers tried to contact Twitter; their email was returned as undeliverable. Finally, 12 days later, Kenyon got a form response from Twitter saying they hadn’t been able to get to her email. They did, however, suspend the hacked account.
Here it is June 21 and I still have no real resolution from Twitter. While I finally do have a live person to email– who hasn’t emailed me back for weeks now, I still don’t control the accounts. So I’ve made the decision not to spend my valuable time developing a page that could be taken away from me at any moment and one that can be used to hurt or threaten my fans while the people who own Twitter twiddles their thumbs. (full post here)
I still love Twitter. Still recommend it to clients. But it definitely comes with strong words of caution now on how to guard your privacy. I hope that protecting my updates for a while will reduce the amount of spam accounts that try to follow me and bots that want to retweet me. My intent is not to be exclusive, just to reclaim some control over my Twitter experience.
I’ll let you know how it goes.