Twitter suspensionOver the weekend I got a call from a friend and Twittermate who woke to find his Twitter account suspended. He was truly perplexed about the suspension. Twitter recently released new terms of service and is intent on cracking down on spam (a good thing) and perhaps his account was mistakenly included in that effort. Hard to say, since Twitter can suspend an account without warning and without notification. Fortunately, this friend maintains a blog and Facebook profile and was able to communicate with his friends and followers through those outposts.

What a good reminder though.

These things happen. Twitter accounts are suspended. Facebook profiles hacked into. What can you do?

My friend’s suspension could easily have been related to a spam cloud or problems with his hosting service (this happened to one of my clients as he started using Twitter). Unfortunately, my friend’s only recourse was to file a support ticket and wait for Twitter’s response. As it turns out, he was reinstated and back in business by the end of the day.

It’s happened before.

In July, Twitter mistakenly suspended hundreds of accounts, among them some of the big names in social media. The accounts were reinstated after several hours, when it became clear that a mistake had been made. Mari Smith was among those whose account was suspended in July and she blogged about some of the lessons she learned from her temporary suspension. Losing her account made her aware of how important twitter had become as a filter for information for her business. At the same time, she realized that “Twitter is only one platform for visibility, branding, community building and connecting.” Mari’s Facebook and other social networks served her well during the short time that her Twitter account was suspended. She stresses that even though these social networks are completely free they should never be taken for granted.

At about the same time, Denise Wakeman, of the BlogSquad, had her Facebook account hacked while she was involved in a daylong seminar. I was on Facebook as it happened and watched the dialogue between Denise and her hacker (truly bizarre). The person hacking into her Facebook posted that Denise was stranded in London and began soliciting money from her many Facebook friends.

Denise quickly posted a note informing her Facebook community of what had happened and many of us tweeted the information for her. She was able to communicate with her networks using her other social networking sites, her blog, and email. In blogging about the experience Denise reminds us not to put all of our social media eggs in one basket. She stresses the importance of being active on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (and I would add YouTube) and of connecting with friends, colleagues, fans and followers–on all of them. She also cautions us. Although theseĀ  networks offer tremendous value, we have no control over them. When one goes down, or a profile is suspended, being able to continue your conversations via the other communities you belong to is essential.

This weekend’s Twitter suspension are a valuable reminder that the only sites we really have control over are our own. Remember to use your social networking to meet people, build relationships with them and then invite them to join you at your blog or website. Offer them content that they find informative, valuable, compelling or useful and they will return. They may even become your next best customer or client.

Is there anything you can do to safeguard your Twitter account? While there are no assurances, taking these steps will help:

  • Read Twitter’sĀ  Terms of Service (TOS). They have recently been revised, and although they are not as specific as we might wish, you should take time to familiarize yourself with them. Twitter is cracking down on spammers and those who violate the TOS.
  • Backup your Twitter account. TweetBackup is easy to use, no installation is required and it backs up your tweets and followers lists.
  • Be cautious giving our your Twitter user name, email and password to third part applications (especially those that promise: “more followers fast”).

Steps you should take if your account has been suspended:

  • Use your email, blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social networking sites to stay connected and keep your networks updated.
  • Visit Twitter Search and check for #Suspended. Other Twitter users may be affected by the same thing

Remember this is not personal and may have nothing to do with you at all. Accounts can be suspended for many reasons and Twitter works hard to evaluate risk and reinstate accounts quickly. Focus on your other social networking and blogging activities until you have updated information about your account.

Most of the accounts suspended over the weekend were reinstated by the end of the day. I haven’t heard what caused this rash of suspensions but I’m fairly certain it wil happen again.

Will you be prepared?

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