Can twitter temporarily shut you down for excessive use?
Aeropolowoman, a journalist who was live tweeting the Mumbai terror attacks from her home in Florida, says that Twitter disabled her “direct messaging” and “@reply” facility for an hour citing “excessive use”.
..during my 17-hour Mumbai tweeting session, Twitter shut me down twice (an hour each time) for my excessive use. I was unable to Direct Message or Reply to anyone anywhere! Those two hours were critical during a disaster that was still fluid.
Her full account sent in response to my preview post on Mumbai Terror Attacks.
Someone had sent me a Tweet from the ground at the scene in Mumbai and was upset because no one was covering the story, so I started - from Florida.
At first, my sources were from witnesses at the scene, then I started getting pleas for help from guests in the Taj. In a short time businesses and families around the world were asking for help in finding their employees and relatives.
Because I wasn’t certain of the veracity of some of the requests I needed to verify them via Google search before I responded to the Tweets. While communicating with frantic hotel guests who wanted their names and hotel room numbers made public I didn’t reveal that information for their own safety. I was able to tweet back to employees and families that the people they were looking for were either not in the hotel at the time, or were in the hotel taking cover.
With the speed of Twitter I was able to receive a message, search it out and verify it, and then send out my response on an average of one tweet every 30 seconds.
Some of my Tweets were sent directly to Mumbaikars who had gone to sleep the night before and would have been unaware of the ongoing slaughter. Those Tweets alerted them to stay in their homes with the doors locked because there were terrorists still running around in a stolen police van, and that all schools were closed so stay home.
Also, Twitter enabled me to tweet the photo of one of the terrorists they were trying to identify, the license plate numbers of the stolen vehicles, as well as blood donation requests from St. Georges and J.J. hospitals.
Unfortunately many hours of my tweets did not include #mumbai in the message which would have enabled me to communicate with an even greater population.
However, during my 17-hour Mumbai tweeting session, Twitter shut me down twice (an hour each time) for my excessive use. I was unable to Direct Message or Reply to anyone anywhere! Those two hours were critical during a disaster that was still fluid. That sort of situation with Twitter needs to be fixed immediately in case a situation like this tragedy happens again. Well, when is happens again somewhere in the world.
My journalism career has included both print and broadcast news, but nothing addresses the immediacy of the breaking news like Twitter. At this point I don’t think we can “under” estimate Twitter’s value.
Related: Is Twitter Blocked?