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Are Your Tweets Being Seen? The Playground Called Twitter

Are Your Tweets Being Seen?

The Playground Called Twitter

by Isabella

Some time back, I wrote a blog concerning “ghost-banning”. It’s about what happens when you’ve been reported for spam, or some other sin on social media, and then, whilst you are being scrutinised by the social media app you’ve offended (whether real or imagined) some of your rights, or privileges in the social media setting are withheld from your use. As in my case on Twitter, I am ghost-banned, and my tweets aren’t searchable under hashtags or in social networking hours.

At last writing, I wasn’t really sure why I had been stripped of my “searchability”, making it difficult to join in the networking hours as no one could “see” my tweets. I’m still not sure because Twitter never tells.  I won’t explain this phenomenon any further here. If you need more information, please read my previous blog. I’ve typed its explanation so often I can repeat it verbatim in my sleep.  You can refer to my earlier blog if you need more information on how to find out if you are ghost-banned:

Social Media and the Modern-Day Witchfinder General

http://bit.ly/2bS2ZIA

For actual spammers, this is fine. It’s a tool for Twitter to stop some (not all, clearly) of the abuse that happens on its platform.  However, there MUST be a way for the innocent to be able to have their account reinstated, to have their account really looked at without assumptions by @support. In order to do that, Twitter needs to implement a proper way for ghost-banned tweeters to put in a ticket. Presently a suspended account has that right, as well should the ghost-banned account.  Not all accounts that have been ghost-banned are necessarily guilty as charged.

Presently, the only way to contact Twitter for non-searchability  is here:

https://support.twitter.com/forms/feature_report?feature=search

Before we go any further in this thesis, let me show you what you can expect when you visit. Firstly, you will find boxes to tick for whichever issue you have. The first or the third one will do for ghost-banishment or “inability to be searched”. I’ve sent so many of these in (to no avail) that I just take turns using those two.

Screencap 1

Next, you will choose something from the drop-down menu. It really doesn’t matter which you choose because, quite frankly, “all of the above” comes to mind. I really think if they do nothing else, that option should be added to this menu. But, go on, make a choice and carry on.

Screencap 2

You now have 500 characters to state your case. I know..makes you feel positively giddy to see 500 characters and not 140, doesn’t it? Don’t get too excited because in reality, you need more. Find an online character counter to save yourself time and to help you figure out the least amount of words to make the best impression.

Screencap 1a

 

And make a good impression, please. I know you’re angry, hurt, full of “how dare theys” but you do not want to reflect that attitude or Twitter will push your “ticket” to the bottom of the heap. And I am sure they have quite a heap by now. Simply state who you are (first name) and what you mostly use Twitter for (ie, a business advertising your product, etc), how you are unsearchable, would someone please look at your account as this has hurt your revenue, that you are sorry for whatever it was you’ve done and thank them.

Just because I have never heard back from Twitter doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I have talked to at least 3 people who have put in a ticket to Twitter and their accounts have since been restored, although Twitter did not contact them, nor did they confirm these accounts had been ghost-banned in the first place.  So, give it a go and good luck. Lastly, once you have filled in the form and pressed send this is what you will see:

Screencap 3

This will hardly fill your heart with hope. It makes you feel as though all this *might* do is give Twitter ideas on how to improve things but thus far, it hasn’t. Who knows? Maybe after the gajillionth entry, perhaps someone will get the idea?

If you’re not ghost-banned, there is a plethora of literature on the web on how NOT to be ghost-banned.  Many people don’t take the time to learn the rules. I must confess I have been guilty as well. Still, as with all forms of social media, I personally attempt at all times to live up to the good common sense my father taught me and not to air my dirty washing as my mum taught me. It would never occur to me to threaten another person in any mode of discussion, whether it be online or in person. If I have over-tweeted on occasion, whether it be my own wares or retweeting someone else’s, I can promise, it was not meant to be spammy. If anything, I am guilty of wanting to be helpful, possibly too much so! Particularly if it this desire to help my fellow tweeters landed me in my own private ghost town.

But, what about when another party becomes angry with another tweeter?  How could a person who did not know they were involved become involved only because they were “guilty by association” with the tweeter who has been targeted? What if that person and all associated with that person become the target of an angry group of tweeters wishing to do them ill?  Because as we know, all it takes is a “playground war” on Twitter and enough people reporting a person with whom they’re angry – no matter which side is right or wrong – people will be ghost-banned.

This would now become a terrible form of bullying. And, as unpopular as I’m sure this will make me with Twitter…isn’t this tantamount to what is happening when they ghost-ban a tweeter leaving them with absolutely NO ability to ask for a solution? If you are suspended, you can file a proper ticket and get help. If you are ghost-banned, you are out of luck, mate. In Twitter’s efforts to thwart bullying, they have become the bully. In their efforts to thwart spam, they have become the spammer with every other tweet a promoted tweet.

It seems a bad move on Twitter’s part to leave who “lives and who dies” up to the masses. I don’t mean to say that people should not be able to protect themselves..not at all. That is why we have the ability to mute and block. If you don’t want to see it, then click one of these. End of. But it seems to me that it is all too easy to report a person for some real or imagined wrong-doing. I want to believe that Twitter’s heart may have been in the right place by giving us these tools, however, Twitter’s owner(s) are still 100% accountable for happens from that point forward. It is my understanding that @support investigates a person’s Twitter account and in many cases, leave it “ghosted” until they have satisfied themselves the account holder is guilty as charged. But as with any business with millions of customers, is their @support coping with all of the charges being brought up on so many accounts?

I have a solution to this, should Twitter be reading. First, let me say that you can keep the “ghost banning” in effect to stop spammers! I realise what your intentions are in using it, but what I ask is that you provide legitimate, non-spamming people a way to contest it when they find out they are being ghost-banned.

If Twitter cares about being fair to their tweeters they would agree to this but I wonder if they do care.  It was down to a knee-jerk decision to implement ghost-banning to begin with because Twitter didn’t want to have to police the tweeters themselves; just leave it to the general population to “police” each other by reporting for spam and other things, whether guilty or not.

Just to have an idea of how they might agree with my opinion you can read here:

http://www.mcvuk.com/news/read/twitter-boss-admits-company-sucks-at-dealing-with-abusive-trolls/0144769

If you are reading this blog and would like to see a petition sent to Twitter for re-evaluation of their support for people who have, most probably, been ghost-banned without being guilty, please sign our petition:

https://www.change.org/p/twitter-support-for-twitter-s-re-evaluation-of-support-policies-for-ghost-banning?recruiter=22124260&utm_source=share_for_starters&utm_medium=copyLink

Many thanks for reading. The Twitter account you save might be your own.

ghostbanned

Social Media and the Modern-Day Witchfinder General

Social media can be a boon to many people…just for general chit-chat and for businesses, the quickest, least expensive way of getting their products seen by the World. Since there is a plethora of social medias out there which cater to the business owner, we are spoilt for choice. We have Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and Twitter to name a few. But, what you might not know is, with all the good this can bring to you in your business, it has a dark and despicable downside as well. It’s called “ghost banning” and I call it the modern-day Witchfinder General.

No, it has relatively nothing at all to do with real witches. Or, at least, it should not do, as that would clearly be bigotry. What it does have to do with is that any of the social medias we so happily flog our wares on to be seen by all and sundry can just as easily make us un-seen…or “ghosts”, if you will.

Take for example, Twitter. If you’re a seasoned Twitter business owner, you might do what is known as Twitter hours. If you don’t know, the Twitter hours are designed by certain business folk on Twitter to help business owners meet other business owners and retweet their products as well as follow each other. I’ve used these hours myself with great results but these days I’ve not bothered as I am one of the un-seen. I am ghost-banned.

Allow me to try to explain in simplest of terms that I can what happens during a Twitter hour when you are ghost-banned. Most people attending these hours will use a specific hashtag in order to stand out from other businesses tweeting at the same time. That hashtag, or hashtags, notifies other participants of that hour that you wish to have your business tweet retweeted. Not all participants, but most, will do a Twitter search on the hashtag being used to pull up all the tweets coming through during that hour with that specific hashtag. It just makes life a bit easier for us so we don’t have to try to catch them as they fly through in our normal mode of viewing tweets. Let’s say we are in #HandmadeCatToysHour (yes, it’s too long but it’s an example, after all). All businesses participating during this hour will hashtag their business tweets with #handmadecattoyshour. If they’re Twitter-savvy, they will do a Twitter search to pull up only the tweets which has that hashtag. Then, they can “see” all the participants whom are tweeting with that hashtag. Easy peasy!

But not so for those of us whom have been ghost-banned. We might as well be on the Moon for all the good it will do to be there, hashtag or not. No one will see our tweets in this setting. Yes, people on the “outside”…the ones looking at their normal tweet “browser” or “tweet deck” ..all the tweets which go by, if they follow you, they WILL physically see your tweets – but that will be whether you are employing a hashtag or not. If they so choose, they might wish to retweet you manually (click the mouse). But the folk congregated in a #HandmadeCatToysHour browser will NOT see you. They will, however, see you ONLY if you personally address them such as “@cattoysrus, have you seen my new Moggy Mat? What do you think? http://www.catmats.com #HandmadeCatToysHour” (yes, I am certain I went over 140 characters, I’m only a writer! I’m taking artistic licence!)

This is the bane of the ghost-banned. We can tweet, we can get new followers, we can follow others (unless blocked), we can be “seen” in normal tweet browsing by our followers, as well as to be “manually” (when somebody sees our tweet and retweets it from normal circumstances) retweeted but if we’re in a Twitter hour or if you retweet our hashtag from a 3rd party app such as Roundteam, we are non-existent. So, if you are business owner and find you aren’t being retweeted as much as you once were, you might want to have a follower perform this check for you. You can also sign out of your business account and sign into your personal account to perform this action.
1. Type from:twitternick into search. This is only showing the format of what you must type. You must replace “twitternick” with your own Twitter nick. For myself I would type from:SpeakingofWytch (from : SpeakingofWytch spreading it out a bit so you can see the colon in there).
2. You will be brought to the page that says “Top Tweets/All Tweets”. Are your tweets populated in this area? Or, as with me, do you hear crickets chirping? You will see a blank space saying “no results”.
3. You’ve been ghost-banned. This is why your tweets have dwindled to few or non-existent.
Do not try this from the account you are checking. It will show you as being there. You must check from a different account.

my Twitter account

For the business owner, this can be a huge loss of revenue as so many of us are using Twitter these days to get our products seen. Retweets are necessary for all the views and visits to our websites we can get…hopefully turning into sales.
When I first began noticing this on Boxing Day 2015, it was sporadic…sometimes I was retweeted as normal, then other times, not. I am fairly certain my visibility was off and on for around a week. After a friend on Twitter Googled @SpeakingofWytch, she found something about I had been “blocked” and Twitter and the 5th of January 2016. No more information than that! And there might have possibly been more info but if they used robot.txt then it could be why clicking the strange link appended to this ground-breaking news is not forth-coming with information.

So, you might have guessed. I am not best pleased. Obviously this has put not only a huge complication on being seen by the right buyers for my wares on Twitter but it has taken much of my precious little time to research this problem and to try to find answers. I would like to say Twitter is helpful but sadly, no. They have only two answers as to why you might no longer be searchable. One is, if you haven’t been actively using your Twitter account for a period of time. Or, they believe you are a spam account or just sending out spam. On Twitter’s Help website they have many “helps” for suspended accounts but you won’t find a sausage about when you are ghost-banned. It is a rather cowardly way (in my estimation) of telling you that they don’t like whatever it is you’ve done (or haven’t done) and they are putting you on the naughty step, yet at the same time allowing you to play. With your hands tied. Problem is, they don’t tell you why you’ve been naughty, nor do they tell you if and when they will deem you fit to play with others fully again. Meanwhile, sit here, take the crayons and colouring in book but wear these handcuffs. There’s a good lass.

I have made many attempts at getting Twitter’s help to no avail. A friend on Twitter gave me a link to a “form” to send in to the Help folk explaining my plight in 500 characters or less (this sort of gives me the first clue that they might not care). Once you’ve done this and click the submission button, you get a cheery “thank you for this. It will help us to help others but we probably won’t do f all for you and we probably won’t write to you about it, either”. No, this is not the exact wording but it is close enough and it might as well say it because it is what it means. This is my second clue that they *probably* don’t care.

Now I’m just getting sarky. And, when you need help, being sarcastic is not the way to go. But then, three “tickets” to Twitter and the occasional plea to @Support hasn’t helped, either. I really do wish they would give me the chance to defend myself and to put right my supposed wrongs. What if I were ghost-banned on accident? Probably not, still, why am I not allowed my day in “court”, but a killer is?

If anybody reading this can provide an easier way, I am open to all suggestions. I never thought being a witch in this day and age would be as it was 500+/- years ago. But, clearly, we still have a form of “Witchfinder General” in the shadows….and if you’re caught (whatever it is you’re doing wrong, but you shall never know) you won’t be drowned or burned, at least. But, you will be ghost-banned. Good luck and here is hoping it doesn’t happen to you!

Links on how NOT to get ghost-banned:

Am I Being Blocked from Twitter *Search*? (Weekly Q&A)

https://blog.kissmetrics.com/ghost-banning-phenomenon/

ghostbanned

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