Banned From Twitter

I have been banned from Twitter.

Image showing Twitter alert that my account was suspended.

This came as a total surprise. I’m not a prolific tweeter, and when I do post, it’s never particularly controversial. I didn’t receive any notification of the ban via email. It was totally unexplained.

Twitter’s support pages advise that I fill out a form in order to appeal the suspension, which I did a few minutes after I realise I’d been banned (on Tuesday 6th October). I received an automatic reply asking me to verify that I could access the email address, and was told that I’d hear back in a few days.

Yesterday evening, after 2 days had passed, I got the beginnings of an explanation. Apparently I had been “permanently suspended for multiple, repeat and/or severe violations of Twitter’s Developer Agreement and Policy. They went on to say that “Due to the severity of the violation, this Twitter account and API key, along with all other associated accounts and applications, are permanently suspended and will not be restored”.

Email from Twitter saying my account was irreversibly suspended

I only have one Twitter API Project. I use (or, used to use) the Twitter API to automatically generate a Spotify playlist based on tweets from my favourite Radio Station‘s now playing account. I made the playlist publicly available here so that others could also listen.

The the script checked for new tweets from the account (being careful to only request new tweets), parsed the tweet to extract the artist name and song name, and logged the play in a database. I then queried the database, determined the 50 most played songs over the last 30 days, and updated a Spotify playlist (using the Spotify API). Having read the developer agreement, I am still not sure which terms I violated – in my eyes, this did not seem like an abusive application. I thought that this would be the kind of mashup that Twitter would encourage.

I wrote the script after the BBC stopped producing Spotify playlists, and did not benefit financially in any way. I just wanted to be able to listen to new music in a convenient way.

As a result of this, I have been permanently banned from Twitter. Twitter never contacted me to ask me to stop, nor did they revoke my API key (which would have instantly stopped my application from functioning). They are free to run their platform however they see fit, but this feels like an unreasonable, nuclear option.

I encourage anyone that uses the Twitter API to think twice before doing so through their personal account unless they are absolutely certain that they are not violating the developer agreement in any way. I am not sure how to achieve this level of certainty.

Do not assume that your application will be acceptable. Do not assume that the worse case is revocation of your API access. Twitter will gladly permanently ban your personal account, regardless of your otherwise unblemished past, and regardless of your accounts age (the account was 11 years old). They may not give any details behind the reasoning for the ban. They will be ruthless and robotic in their actions.

I am now tweeting from @RosephJedfern, so please follow me there to keep up with my latest complaints to Virgin Media, British Gas and Cardiff Council.