Posted by: Marshall Sponder | July 24, 2008

Twitter Chaos

Was trying to figure out what some of my Twitter friends like @chrissieb and @mknell were complaining about earlier today – but now it makes sense and yesterday, I saw the Twitter Blue Whale, just like everyone else did, who tried to use Twitter in the evening – and found it was down.

Read/WriteWeb has a post about what happened with Twitter yesterday in New Twitter Anti-Spam Bot Causes Chaos:

Earlier this week, ZDNet reported that many Twitter users were no longer able to add followers thanks to the new limits put in place to discourage spamming. Unfortunately, this action caused some major trouble for community managers, like Pandora’s Lucia Willow, for example, who stated her case over on Get Satisfaction. In addition to Pandora, Comcast, Jet Blue, and several others were also affected. In order to add new followers, they had to delete older ones – not a good idea for those that want to stay tuned into their community.

In addition to causing problems for community managers, there were even some cases of follower limits placed on those that had a 1:1 Twitter ratio. And although Twitter has not confirmed the cause of the dropped follower counts, it’s likely that the the new anti-spam bot is to blame.

When I heard that some firms are using Twitter for Customer Service, I rolled my eyes, not that it should not be done – but using a free service that isn’t 100% reliabable to support a paid service seems like it’s almost …”cheating”….

As we wrote earlier this year, many companies are using Twitter for customer service, meaning that they will be following people at higher rates than regular Twitter users due to the fact that they follow back those that follow them. This is certainly a legitimate way to use the service and one that should not be punished through a blind algorithm that can’t distinguish a community manager from a spammer.

It’s almost as if companies are  using Skype for phone, Twitter for their customer service, Flickr for their photo gallery, etc, and that’s OK, as long as you don’t overly depend on these services – but I’m wondering about businesses built on services that are not entirely reliable or secure.

I think it’s tempting to use Twitter and RSS to, say ….. keep in touch with customers -but if your going to build elaborate systems on top of it – you’d better hope Twitter, itself, is secure and stable, something that I don’t think it is – at least, not 100%.

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