Without warning or notification, social media mini-blog site Twitter on Monday simultaneously “suspended” the main Empower Texans feed along with the personal accounts of all staff.
It is unsettling, to say the least, given the way the entity sells itself as a great equalizer for personal and public discourse.
The Empower Texans team has never knowingly violated Twitter Rules, and have yet to receive any official notice or clarification of the action. Furthermore, a simple examination of our accounts clearly shows the Empower Texans team have not run afoul of Twitter’s guidelines.
Twitter, which offers no phone numbers or the ability to appeal a decision directly, has been notified through their process of this issue, and the necessary appeals have been submitted online. But, again, we have received no information from Twitter.
Of course, Empower Texans is going strong on Facebook. We have more than 18,700 friends on our main page – making us the largest independent, Texas-based policy/political group operating there with a vibrant community and on-going dialogue. (Our Facebook reach is also bigger than the state’s various news organizations!)
While the Empower Texans team members engage in political conversations and advocacy using the Twitter medium, they certainly do not use the medium to sell particular products or to generate spam. Empower Texans uses the Twitter medium in good faith to engage and actively contribute to the social media/networking experience. We talk about political ideas, Texas issues, as well as topics of personal interests from Aggie football to UT baseball, families and vacations to history and pop-culture.
Individual Twitter accounts are suspended everyday for a litany of reasons only to be reinstated after a quick review. The fact that an organizational feed, along with the personal accounts of all those associated with the organization, were suspended at the same time is odd and raises concern. Even more so that they were suspended with no notice or warning.
What is certainly more unsettling is the effect this action could have on the greater “social media” experience in regard to political discourse.
If this series of unfounded suspensions prove to be the result of a political prank, Twitter’s automated system — confounded by the byzantine nature of its appeals process — has proven highly susceptible to those wishing to manipulate it.
UPDATE: On Wednesday afternoon, Empower Texans / Texans for Fiscal Responsibility president Michael Quinn Sullivan received a vaguely worded auto-response-style message suggesting the suspension was due to unspecified violations of Twitter policies. However, we aren’t aware of any regular Twitter activities (tweeting, re-tweeting, etc) that we engaged in that in any way violate Twitter rules.