Tuesday, December 18, 2012

More insanity: Twitter's blocking tweets as "unsolicited mentions"

Originally published 2/23/12

It has always been my practice to try to credit authors of tweets by using their @twittername so that (a) I am informing my friends as to where on twitter these sources can be found, and (b) I am letting the authors know that I thought well enough of their material to tweet it.

Similarly, when I tweet songs, if the performer is on twitter, I add in or substitute the performer's twitter name, again to let them know I liked their material and to let my friends know where the performer can be found on twitter.

I just learned today that ALMOST ALL of my tweets that are in my feeds are being blocked by twitter as "unsolicited mentions".... i.e. because I wasn't "solicited" by the author or singer, therefore I'm wrong to credit them under their twitter name.

This is insanity, and highly anti-conversation, anti-sharing, and anti-social.

Meanwhile, it now creates probably hundreds of hours of work for me to edit the several thousand music tweets I've prepared, and to go through and edit the hundreds of feeds I monitor.

And from now on, you won't be able to tell from my tweets whether or not the author or singer is on Twitter, or what their user name is, and the authors and singers won't know that I tweeted their material.

So if you're someone whose blog posts or performances I tweeted, and you think I've gone silent... I haven't. I'm going to try to substitute #username for @username, but those won't be showing up among your 'mentions'.

I don't know what to say except !?&%#?!



  1. Apparently the repressing of giving credit isn't across the board as I always use an author's @ twitter name when mentioning the books I've read... So far, I haven't been censored.

    Personally, I don't think of it as unsolicited mentions. I think its just plain good manners to let people know who wrote the book and give them access to finding out more about the author.

  2. That's crazy. Is Twitter keeping them out of the public streams of your followers, or just from appearing in performers' mentions?

    If the latter, is it by their request? Is that one of the perks that comes with verified accounts?

    When I discover an artist or anything else I like through tweets, I like having their handle so I can check out their tweets and maybe follow. It seems counterproductive for Twitter to actively discourage this.

  3. I don't know what's going on, or why.

  4. How did you even find out it was happening? Did Twitter contact you and tell you? Have others let you know they're not seeing things they know they should? I'm obviously very curious (and concerned) about the whys and hows.

  5. How do you find out if a tweet is being blocked? And how does this differ from a retweet?

    What about corporate accounts? Are they upset by free advertising? (My spidey sense is wondering could this policy may have something to do with the Komen affair)


  6. I use SocialOomph.com to post time-delayed tweets.

    I realized almost all of my tweets were being blocked, by looking at the massive number of error messages I suddenly started receiving.

    I mentioned this to their tech support unit, and they said they didn't know what was going on but Twitter was trying to cut down on "unsolicited mentions".

    I then started changing certain things from @username to #username, and the tweets without the @ went through.

    Now I have many many hours of work to do to change all my feeds, and to review and edit my music tweets.

  7. Wow that is crazy! Part of the reason that Twitter is so wildly popular is because you can engage with all sorts of people in that exact way.

    They are making some very strange decisions, becoming very corporate and I wonder where it is all leading to.

  8. Thanks for the explanation, Ray. I'm not well-acquainted with SocialOomph, but just to try to pin things down, you might try something like HootSuite temporarily. It also lets you schedule and do some other types of things, though probably not quite as much as SO. I'm just wondering if SO is 'flagged' as highly commercial and factoring into the blocked content.

  9. Twitter is only "social" according to its own rather unique definition of "social".

    Where it is heading by making the environment increasingly challenging and hostile, is to increasingly isolate large sections of the user community.

    How they, how we, choose to react to that is a matter of choice.

    I migrated to using my blog as my social media platform and now use Twitter as a tool as when it suits me. That fits my user profile fairly well for now, but it won't work for everyone, and is not a solid long-term social media strategy.

    There is a glimmer of hope:
    WikiLieaks are building a new, open, social network.
    Diaspora* are trying but have yet to make it work fully as intended or needed. Though they have made progress, they are also operating under constraints, especially with the recent death of one of the founders.

    We need to figure out some alternative long-term solutions, and I doubt any of them would see Twitter dominating a repertoire of effective social media tools, though it would have a place.

    Waiting for the next twist in a "black-box" development path that is not concerned with the experience or satisfaction of a diverse user population, just a pre-selected "ideal" user, and which does not solicit or respond to feedback, is a tedious waste of our time. But the punishment of having to revise and rethink after each revision - and of taking on the burden of discovering those changes and their impact - is a form of self-inflicted torture, if we simply resign ourselves to each unwelcome, uncomfortable change.

  10. Hi Liss Nup

    You're absolutely right, but who's to say whether Diaspora will actually become operational, and if it does, whether it will be good or bad.

    I'd hoped for the open source creators of status.net and identi.ca to expand their sites, once twitter started going sour, but they haven't done anything.

  11. This happened to me twice now. I have a link microblog on http://identi.ca and I was mirroring it to twitter. I also like to credit the people whose tweets I retweet. But apparently this is no longer allowed. Microblogging should not be entirely controlled by one company. This is so frustrating.

  12. It's how they keep the small accounts small and the big (already well connected and publicized) accounts happy.

  13. I don't understand it, I had my account less than 24 hours and they banned me.

  14. Thank You for pointing out the problem.
    I also suffer.
    I wrote to the Twitter Support ticket:
    Please accept my apology.
    It is really diffikult nowadays to convince people to follow another Tweeter.
    Please allow me back on Twitter.
    Thank You
    Merry christmas and a happy new year
    I always preach: Every Freedom exploited, will vanish.
    This will produce "lemon costs"
    So fare well and keep hoping


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