Category Archives: Twitter Problems

What Happens When Spammers Copy YOUR Account on Twitter?

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Spammers sometimes autocreate accounts by copying existing accounts to help themselves look more real.

Realize that they are not “impersonating” you if they don’t tweet or otherwise pretend to be you. Specifically, if they do not “portray another person in a misleading or deceptive manner” it is not impersonation, according to Twitter’s policy.

But if you do need to report someone for impersonation, first read Twitter’s impersonation policy page.

Yet it can be very disturbing to see someone copy your bio and your name (usally with a number added, like @BillW34356).

But know that if you don’t tell anyone about the account, it’s very unlikely that anyone will ever notice the similarity, and extremely unlikely that they would actually mistake them for you, unless they are using a background with your photo on it, or similarly personal information.

You can ask your friends to report them for spam, but realize that a lot of communication using an account’s username Twitter takes as a sign validating that account, so if you need to discuss the account, do so mainly by DM.

Why Twitter closed your support request without reading it

Summary: Use Twitter’s online system (not email or tweets), reply to their email response, wait. Do NOT create multiple tickets, and be SURE to reply to their first email. Here’s why:

Many people miss their responses from Twitter because they don’t check their spam folder, or they don’t realize they will be getting an email, or they have forgotten which email address they used when they signed up for Twitter. If you plan to ask Twitter for help, first check which email you have entered on your Twitter account at and make sure you still have access to it. Then go here to contact Twitter, and be sure to check your email AND spam folder for a response afterwards.

Yes, Twitter closes support requests without reading them

If you create a support ticket (via http://bit.ly/TWICKET), Twitter will reply by email, usually with links to pages that might have information about the issue you are asking for help with. However, if you read down to the bottom of the email it may say something like this:

“If you’re having trouble with something that isn’t addressed above, you can either:
1. Reply to this email to re-open your ticket and let us know…”

That’s right—your request may have been immediately closed without being read. You have received an automated response, and your ticket has been closed. Only if you reply to the email will a person read your ticket and respond.

What to do

Check the links they sent you in the email! Yes, one of them probably addresses your issue, and this is the quickest thing you can do.

99% of the issues we hear about are listed on the Twitter support site. Only if you can’t find information relating to your issue should you reply. If you don’t see an email at all, check your spam folder and visit http://support.twitter.com/tickets. If you haven’t already, read how to get your Twitter issue fixed for more details.

Why doesn’t Twitter respond to all help requests personally?

Caveat: this is just our opinion. We don’t work for Twitter—we just try to help where we can.

  1. Twitter has explained 99% of issues on their help site—all you need to do is find the article relevant to your problem. So most Twitter help emails contain a list of links to the information most likely to help you.
  2. Many issues “fix themselves”—either the person realizes it was an error/misunderstanding on their part, or it was an actual problem that only happened for a brief time. Read about why Twitter breaks things on purpose to learn more, or see how browser problems on your computer sometimes cause Twitter problems—and what you can do to fix them.
  3. When Twitter.com goes offline, or there is a serious issue reported at status.twitter.com, most of the (potentially thousands per minute) help requests that come in Twitter is already working on fixing, and will have fixed within minutes or hours.
  4. Twitter would have to add hundreds of tech support employees to respond to all support requests quickly and personally, and 99% of them would just end up saying “We’re aware of the issue you’re having and we’re working on fixing it. Click here for the details.”

Is Twitter’s Screw-Up Blocking You From Logging In?

Twitter recently claimed that technical problems caused them to reset the passwords of users who didn’t need resetting (hadn’t been hijacked).

But now many users are reporting that they can’t login to Twitter!

Here’s one way to make it work, with a few wrinkles until Twitter fixes things better. I’ll assume you’re logged out/can’t login.

The main problem is this. If you log out, your password won’t work, and you’ll have to reset it again! I suggest clicking the box to STAY LOGGED IN when you reset your password. And, unfortunately, you’ll have to do this on each computer you want to be logged into Twitter.

Essentially what you’ll need to do is use the password reset process to login to your Twitter account on each computer you want to be logged in on.

Here’s what you do:

First, make sure you’re on a computer that you can receive email on, and go to https://twitter.com/account/resend_password.

Enter your username or email there and wait for the email response from Twitter. Click the link in the email, let it take you to the web page to enter your password.

At this point it’s okay to enter your old password if you’re sure you weren’t hijacked.

Now you should be logged into Twitter ON THAT COMPUTER.

If you want to log in on a different computer, go ahead and TRY the password you just used, but if it doesn’t work—and many users are reporting that it doesn’t—you’ll have to reset your password ON THAT COMPUTER as well.

Of course, just use the same password again.

 

 

Twitter Resetting User Passwords After Massive Hijack Attack

UPDATE: Twitter admits that they reset many accounts unnecessarily on November 7. Meaning that even though many individual accounts were hijacked, Twitter otherwise broke itself. And though they don’t say so, the hijack attempts may have been primarily from China.

If you received an email that looks similar to the one below, it is probably NOT fake, and you need to reset the password on your account.

If you want to be absolutely safe, instead of clicking the links in the email, instead open your browser and type in “twitter.com” and try to login. Twitter.com will then redirect you to change your password.

These emails often go out when large numbers of Twitter accounts have been hijacked. Sometimes, just to be safe, Twitter will even send these to accounts that have NOT been hijacked, trying to make sure to catch everyone that HAS been hijacked.

How Accounts Get Hijacked

When a Twitter account is hijacked, the most common reason is that the person who owned the account accidentally logged into a fake Twitter page.

When you type your password into a page that is NOT Twitter, it gets stolen. Of course, who would do that?

The trick is that the hijackers make the page look EXACTLY like Twitter, except for the address (URL) of the webpage.

You can find yourself at one of these fake pages when you click a link and find yourself at what looks like a Twitter login page, but is actually a fake look-alike page. If you forget to check the URL at the top of the page to make sure you’re actually at Twitter, and not some fake look-alike site, they enter their username and password and the hijacker gets their password.

So the trick has two parts: (1) Getting you to click a link (2) Getting you to enter your password. As long as you don’t fall for step (2) you’re safe!

So always remember: Just because it looks like Twitter doesn’t mean it is!

Always check the URL of the page, or, better yet, type “twitter.com” into the address bar of your browser and press enter to make sure you’re actually at Twitter.com.

The next step is usually that the hijacker will start sending out DMs from your account, usually trying to hijack other accounts. These can be DMs that say things like “was this you in this pic?” or “people are saying bad things about you here:”

Twitter blocks the links in these DMs from working fairly quickly, but they do work for the little while it takes Twitter to figure out they should be blocked, and the hijackers change the URLs after they are blocked to try to keep catching new people.

Sometimes hijackers will send out a large wave of DMs from all the accounts they have compromised. When this happens, Twitter notices, and may send out a large number of password reset emails, trying to catch everyone who may have been compromised. This can happen several times a year.

How Twitter’s Worldwide Outage Changed Klout Scores Worldwide Twice

On July 27, 2012 many folks had Klout scores that dropped dramatically.

The day before and the day after were not affected. This was the day of Twitter’s dramatic worldwide outage. On that day, Klout lost around 20% of the data it needed to calculate Klout scores accurately.

How Does Twitter Affect Klout Scores?

Klout measures a person’s “influence” each day, and then publishes an overall score that is the average of the last 90 days. The overall average is the number they publish. It’s your “Klout score.”

That means that a score from 90 days ago won’t count towards your score tomorrow. So if you had a really high score 90 days ago, it will go away tomorrow, lowering your overall score tomorrow (unless tomorrow is equally high.)

Klout’s “dashboard” shows how much each signal affects your Klout score. In the case of our @TweetSmarter account, Twitter accounts for just over 90% of our score.

How Much Will Klout Scores Increase?

On Thursday, October 25, the day of the Twitter outage was 91 days old, and no longer counted towards anyone’s Klout scores. When that day was no longer counted, scores went up around .2% for users whose Klout score was influenced heavily by Twitter.

Since Klout averages to only report whole numbers, scores that were just below a .5 (such as 33.4, 41.3, etc.) saw their score increase a whole number, as they pass over the .5 mark and are averaged up to the next whole number.

A very rough guess is that about 1 in 700 Klout scores went up…affecting hundreds of thousands of users.

HT to @Karen_C_Wilson for some proofreading

Have Millions of Fake Accounts Fooled Twitter?

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has mentioned several times that millions of people use Twitter only for reading information, and rarely if ever tweet themselves.

But how much does he know?

Fake Twitter Accounts

Companies that sell followers create fake Twitter accounts that rarely tweet, and just have them follow people for money.

So the fact that there are millions of Twitter accounts that rarely tweet doesn’t mean those are people that use Twitter passively for reading without tweeting (much) themselves. Many—most?—of them are fake accounts being sold to people who want to buy followers.

Of course, some of them are real people, but Twitter can’t tell the difference! Twitter hasn’t figured out how to stop fake accounts from being created, and can’t tell the difference between them and real people in order to suspend them

So how many people are just using Twitter “passively?” No one knows…except perhaps the spammers creating fake accounts. But since automated hacking tools are widely available for creating fake Twitter acc0unts, and it’s estimated that selling Twitter followers brings in nearly $50 million each year, it’s fair to say there could be millions of fake accounts.

Spam

Of course, some fake accounts are created in order to send spam. Here’s a list of the latest spam, and spam accounts, for example. But accounts created only to be sold as fake “followers” never spam, because that would risk them getting suspended, and if they were suspended, they couldn’t be sold as followers.

Fortunately, even if hackers find a lucrative way to break into your account or computer just by getting you to click a link, those fake accounts are unlikely to switch over to sending spam, because they make a LOT of money being sold as followers.

And that’s good, because otherwise, millions of fake accounts could suddenly start spamming Twitter.

How to View or Create Links when Twitter Breaks Them

Twitter started “wrapping” all links in tweets through it’s own service some time ago, but the service has had problems several times.

Twitter does try to display the actual link in many tweets, but when you click it still will try to take you to a shortened t.co link before actually resolving to the actual website URL.

 But notably, in early October, Twitter’s t.co system failed worldwide for nearly an hour.

What Broke Twitter’s System In October?

An employee at the company that manages the t.co domain for Twitter accidentally turned it off!

Yes, it’s a little more complicated than that, but not much. It was human error.

A spokesman said they “inadvertently placed the t.co domain on hold.” While “hold” doesn’t sound too bad, Internet standard RFC 5731 specifies that connectivity “information MUST NOT be published,” when this kind of hold happens…meaning the domain becomes unreachable.

The company responsible is called .CO Internet, and they didn’t admit to causing the problem for awhile, causing a lot of speculation!

They said they were investigating a complaint about hackers creating phishing links when someone accidentally changed the setting, and for at least a half hour, no one at the company realized that they had taken down Twitter links worldwide!

►The Trick For Reading Links When Twitter Breaks Them

If you can read the actual URL of the link in a tweet (in other words, it’s not displayed as a t.co, and it doesn’t include “…” in the link) you can copy and paste the URL into your browser to go to the link indicated.

►The Trick for Creating Links When Twitter Breaks Them

The bad news is that you can’t make clickable links work in your tweets when t.co is having problems. The good news is that (for now) you can put links into tweets that do NOT get shortened by t.co.

The trick is to replace the “.” in your URL with . —here’s an example. Copy:

http://www.google.com

into a tweet and then edit it to become

http://www.google.com

…and it will still look like http://www.google.com when you send the tweet! But you’ll need to say something like

paste this link: google.com …into your browser

…because it won’t be a clickable link. But, it also won’t be a BROKEN link! Notice that I removed the http://www. part: It’s not needed, and it saves you 11 characters

Here’s another example. http://bit.ly/ceXVFz would become bit.ly/ceXVFz and display as bit.ly/ceXVFz

When Should You Do This?

If there is a report that Twitter’s t.co service is not working properly, and you still need to get a link out to people NOW, use this trick.

But if you can wait, you should. Most people are not interested in copying and pasting a link to see where it takes them, and some may be suspicious, especially if you are using a shortened link. You’ll get a much better response if you can wait until Twitter is working again, and will automatically make your link clickable by turning it into a hyperlink.

Why This Works

. is the “HTML entity equivalent” of the lowly period (“.”) and so your browser simply displays it as a period. But Twitter, when reading your tweet to look for links to shorten, ignores some HTML entity equivalents (for now) and so leaves your link untouched and unshortened.

 

Why Twitter Suspended @FiredBigBird Twice

The Washington Post was confused as to how @FiredBigBird got suspended twice.

These kinds of repeat suspensions are very common in cases like this. Here’s how and why that can happen:

When people report an account for spam, Twitter mostly ignores the report UNLESS the person reporting has received the spam they are complaining about. This way, hundreds of people can’t band together and report an account for spam to try to get it suspended. Twitter’s automated systems mostly only “listens” to spam reports from people actually receiving spam from the account.

First Suspension

The way it works, as explained here, is if the two accounts have no relationship (the person receiving the “spam” didn’t contact the sender first; neither accounts follow the other) Twitter treats those reports very seriously, and will auto-suspend the account for sending “multiple unsolicited mentions” IF there are enough spam reports close together.

This is what happened to @FiredBigBird.

Second Suspension

But in most cases like this, a second suspension happens closely after the first (if the account owner reinstates the account).

The reason is that once an account has been suspended once, Twitter’s automatic system makes it vulnerable to being suspended again if there are more spam reports, even if they are from people NOT receiving spam,  as explained here.

So @FiredBigBird fell victim to the classic “double suspension” that happens to accounts that include usernames of people they have no relationship with, when those people don’t like what is being said.

How To Create Multiple Twitter Accounts Quickly…Without Getting Suspended!

If you create multiple Twitter accounts quickly, Twitter will suspend them all.

Complaining to Twitter that you meant no harm won’t help. Twitter has even acknowledged to users in the past after suspending accounts that the accounts were otherwise fine, but would not be unsuspended.

Twitter is fine with you having multiple accounts. But, they clearly state

Mass account creation may result in suspension of all related accounts.

How many is too many to create all at once? Twitter won’t say. But I’ve seen as few as 6 suspended. I would recommend not exceeding 2 or 3 unless you use the trick mentioned below.

Of course, in practice, you can create as many as you like if you spread out the time it takes to create them, and they aren’t used in ways that gets them suspended.

When You Have To Hide What You’re Doing From Twitter

There are many good, valid reasons to create multiple accounts. Frequently, the organizer of a class or conference does it to provide attendees a social media channel to use at the event. Another common reason is to set up multiple information channels around a topic. And accounts created for nefarious purposes (such as sending spam) will likely be suspended once they start tweeting. So this trick is only for accounts set up for valid purposes! If you’re unclear on the difference, read Twitter’s rules carefully.

The trick to creating several accounts all at once is to pay for a web proxy service to hide your IP address.

You’ll typically need to disconnect and reconnect between setting up each account so each will have been created from a different IP address. This is the main point: each account needs to be created from a different IP address.

But, take care! Some more disreputable proxy services may have the IPs they use added to “banned” lists, and it won’t do you any good. That’s why I generally recommend using a well-known paid service such as this one. Also, if you make an error, or the service has an error, you may have to redo some accounts. So the final step is to check the accounts regularly.

Alternatives And Additional Tricks

Yes, you could use a bunch of friends, or computers at different locations, or other tricks to achieve the same purpose. But for the average user, using a web proxy is the simplest solution. Using a mobile device to register accounts won’t work. (The last person I know who tried using a mobile device had all the accounts they created suspended.)

And once they are created, to make them even less likely to be suspended, tweet something to each of them from any well-established account, and login to a few each day and reply to that established account with different wording. (It can be as simple as “Welcome to Twitter!” and “Thanks!” but remember to vary the wording). Why? Because communication with existing accounts makes Twitter trust new accounts much more.

If the accounts are going to be communicating with one another, make sure you take the time to have them follow one another. This is important! Otherwise it will look to Twitter like the initial tweets are “unsolicited” and could get the account close to being marked for spam and suspended. Put them all on a Twitter list to make this easier.

Also, be sure to educate users that will be using the accounts (if this is your use scenario) on a few Twitter rules as well. Mainly, tell them not to tweet rapidly to a lot of accounts they aren’t following, or aren’t following them, as that looks like spam-type behavior when seen from brand new accounts.

Final Warning

If you do get accounts suspended by creating too many too quickly, realize that Twitter may look at all activity from the IP address you used as suspicious. Which could put any existing Twitter accounts created from that IP address on thin ice. So don’t risk it!