I go on a short holiday to visit my family and friends back in the motherland, and what happens? My Twitter account is suspended.

Why? No fucking clue. If I were to hazard a guess I’d say my account was flagged by some automated (and deeply flawed) spam-detection script and suspended without further human interference.

Over time I’ve come to rely on Twitter for a lot of things – keeping up to date in my field of employment, maintaining my network of professional and personal contacts, finding new viral content early, and generally keeping my finger on the pulse of the internet.

Now my account is suspended for no apparent reason. I’ve looked at Twitter’s rules and can’t find anything I’ve done that would incriminate my account. Twitter hasn’t provided a reason for this suspension either – the account has simply been closed. I didn’t receive any email. I had to find out about my account’s suspension from a friend who dropped me an email during my holiday.

Naturally I’ve contested this with Twitter’s support department, but to say they’re not very quick on the draw is a ridiculous understatement. Continental plates move faster than Twitter support. It’s been 6 days since I submitted a support ticket, and aside from an automated response I’ve received no word, despite two further requests from my side.

Even worse, Twitter’s standard text on account suspension states an account may be suspended for a minimum of 30 days pending ‘research’. This means I could be disconnected from a large part of my personal and professional information stream for over a month.

Creating a new account and starting from scratch isn’t really an option. Not only would I lose the valuable network I’ve built up over more than a year of Twitter usage, the rules also bluntly state that any account created to replace a suspended account faces permanent suspension.

It’s a good thing this has happened though. It has made me realise the amount of power a single social network can have over your day to day routines. This account suspension has made me feel disconnected from the internet as if I wasn’t online at all. I’m out of the loop. I’m not up to date on what’s happening any more. It’s somehow liberating and suffocating at the same time.

And it’s made me understand that Twitter, as a victim of its own popularity, is thoroughly incapable of handling its own success. Automated processes to detect and suspend spam accounts obviously don’t work, and Twitter seems reluctant to invest sufficient human resources to handle the emerging problems in an acceptable manner.

I suppose since Twitter is a free service I really shouldn’t complain. Yet most social media sites are free to use and that doesn’t stop us from revolting en masse when something goes wrong. Twitter however is unique in that despite its massive success has failed spectacularly in monetising its sudden ubiquity.

So I’ll give Twitter a bit of leeway. Another week, maybe. If they haven’t fixed my account by then, they can fuck off and I’ll start using FriendFeed instead.

UPDATE: After 17 days my account was re-activated. I never got an explanation for it, but I suspect it was because I was a little careless with my password and my account got taken over by a spammer during my holiday. Serves me right I suppose, but a little quick action from Twitter would’ve been appreciated.