Why I've given up on Twitter support

By Tama on April 30, 2016

The twitter account @Empiresmod has been in the hands of an unknown hijacker since 2010. Back then, Trickster was project lead, and he did his best to get through to Twitter support and regain access to the account. I suspect he gave up somewhere in the maze of twitter account recovery. In the years since, I’ve seen tweets insulting Valve, the Source SDK and server owners. I’ve seen racist tweets and worse (don’t ask); and all of this in the name of the Empiresmod development team, using our own account. It was clear I had to sort this out, before more bridges were burned for us.

The first step for recovering an account is of course “I forgot my password”; if you still have your email associated, that works just fine, but this hijacker has obviously already removed our email address, so we continue to “Request help signing in to your account”. Twitter then sends you an email that assumes you’re just a complete idiot who couldn’t spell their email address.

Anyway, a few automated emails later, and they ask you for a couple of very reasonable requirements for establishing account ownership for an organisational twitter account.

So at that point, we had an empiresmod.com domain email address associated with the account, and I was able to login. So, after removing the other email address, I started deleting all those offensive tweets. It was not to last. Somehow, the hijacker managed to reset the email address back again! I got an email saying the account was temporarily locked due to suspicious activity, and then a few hours later I was locked out of the account. Clearly Twitter’s “account lockdown” feature doesn’t actually work, as evidenced by his tweet right after he regained access to the account.

Anyway, no big deal right? Twitter has already acknowledged our ownership of the account, and that last email even explicitly says: “Let us know if you need any further assistance.”

How wrong I was. In fact, it’s impossible to let them know if you need any further assistance, because the case is closed.

I’ve gone through that maze 7 times, and each case is 5 emails. So if you’re wondering why the achievement code still isn’t finished, write to Twitter. Apparently they think it’s fine to use a fully automated support system that only lets an organisation recover their account exactly once, and then ignore all follow up communication.

Cases #30865156, #31398155, #31589530, #31735893, #31785430, #31823762, #31735893

So, after 35 emails, I’ve given up. I’ve thought about mapping out on paper how their support system works, to further illustrate the insanity of it, but I should really get back to fixing Empiresmod bugs. The end result of each of those cases (except the first, which was successful, of course) is either; “Your email address doesn’t match” (duh?) or “Unable to verify you as the account holder”

It quickly became clear that the emails are not read by humans, because I replied to many of these automated emails explaining why the automated email is verifiably incorrect when it says they were unable to verify, or that my empiresmod.com domain email address was not ever registered to the account. I even tried fishing for keywords to see if I could get a human to read my support ticket.

I think the next step for the Empiresmod team is to automate right back at them, and create scripts that automatically file these exact same complaints, say, three times per second? Clearly it’s not an option to allow our organisation’s twitter account to continue following pornstars and tweeting that Empiresmod is “free of n*****s”.

You can discuss this topic on reddit.