Twitter is entering a new era after its acquisition by Elon Musk, but despite the promises of banning nobody and adhering to free speech, various restrictions continue to be placed on Elon Musk’s platform as we speak.
Now that Twitter verification has become pay to play, it is only a matter of time until Twitter takes further steps to root out spam as well as those who are using their real-time communication platform to broadcast instead of share, especially when the broadcast is threatening to Twitter’s existence itself.
Some people log in to Twitter only to find that they have been locked out or their account deactivated. Even if that isn’t you, if you haven’t searched for yourself or your company on Twitter recently, you may want to confirm that your tweets are still being shown in the search results and that you haven’t been caught up in content moderation conversations and had your account banned or limited.
While Elon Musk has announced that he will make it transparent as to if you are being “shadow banned” and why, this has yet to materialize as of the writing of this post, leaving many an email inbox empty and companies frustrated.
If your tweets aren’t appearing in search results or you have a feeling that something is not right in Twitterville, here are some reasons why your Twitter account may be temporarily “restricted” without your knowing it.
Note that this list does not include the obvious rule-breakers such as creating fake accounts impersonating celebrities, abusive behavior, hateful conduct, illegal activity, harassment of users, abusive content, etc.
1) Repeatedly posting duplicate or near-duplicate content (links or tweets)
As a micro-blogging platform, why would you ever need to repeat yourself in your tweets? You’d be surprised: you may want to introduce everyone to your company or product or blog and want to do so more than once. For instance, I often retweeted a new blog post the day after I originally tweeted about it because not everyone may have caught it the first time. Guy Kawasaki posted a famous blog post about this entitled “How to Drive Traffic with Repeat Tweets.” In this fantastic analytical article, Guy shows how repeating a tweet can get significant additional traffic. The analysis is simple: not everyone is looking at Twitter all of the time, so by repeating your tweet you are increasing your chances of getting noticed. Twitter thinks otherwise: Post repeat tweets or repeat links and your tweets will no longer show up in search results. You won’t even notice that this has happened until you try searching for your own tweets.
Further Reading: The 3 Best Ways How to Schedule Tweets for Twitter
2) Abusing trending topics or hashtags (topic words with a # sign)
HabitatUK comes to mind as the famous story of a company abusing the trending topics hashtags which ended up leading to their formal apology. You don’t want your Twitter fails to go viral either. Every time you place a hashtag at the end of your tweet, be forewarned that Twitter is watching to ensure that you are properly classifying your tweet. Don’t try to cheat the system to be found…otherwise you won’t be found anymore! If you share from FOX news or another news site, let it be occasional rather than habitual.
Further Reading: Twitter Hashtag Search: The Definitive Guide
3) Sending automated tweets or replies
If you are using a 3rd party software application or service to send automated tweets or replies, beware, you are being watched! If social media is about being authentic and transparent, it leaves no room for automation, no matter how bad you want to get the message out. And if you are thinking of doing some guerilla marketing by sending out automated replies, your days are numbered…
4) Using bots or applications to post similar messages based on keywords
There are sophisticated services that allow you to post messages based on keywords that show up in the Twitter timeline. As sophisticated and attractive as these services might be to some Internet marketers, Twitter is even more sophisticated at finding you!
5) Posting similar messages over multiple accounts
If you have multiple accounts and are trying to market or broadcast the same message from multiple angles, please stop. If you don’t stop, you will be forced to stop!
If you don’t know what this looks like, check this out:
Further Reading: Twitter Etiquette: What are the Rules? Here’s 21 to Consider
6) Aggressively following and un-following people
I am assuming that this is the reason why most people have their Twitter account restricted. I don’t think an explanation is needed here, but Twitter has its limitations on how many people you can follow in a day. In addition, if you “aggressively” unfollow people in order to follow more people, Twitter will restrict your account. “Aggressively” is an abstract term, so as long as you are doing periodic follows and unfollows I assume you will not have any issues here.
The above 6 reasons why your account may be restricted aren’t issues that I made up: they actually come straight from the Twitter support article on Best Practices. Twitter is definitely getting serious about the “quality” of Tweets, and if you aren’t equally serious, you will be removed from search results and lose the benefits of being able to use the real-time service.
The common point for all of the above is just to be “natural.” If you use Twitter in a real and authentic way without over-relying on 3rd party applications or tools you should be O.K. Should you use any programs to completely automate your activities, use with caution!
Further Reading: 12 Ways How to Get More Followers on Twitter
What to Do if Your Twitter Account is Restricted?
Twitter Support describes 3 different scenarios where your account might be restricted and what to do in each scenario:
Suspicious behavior can lead to having your Twitter account changed to a limited account. Essentially, rather than a permanent suspension, a limited account means that you have violated the terms of service, and will have your account capabilities limited to only reaching your followers. Similar to a locked Twitter account, a limited account is restricted, but it is not locked out altogether, and Twitter followers can still see and engage with your content. Unusual activity and violations of Twitter’s abusive behavior policy are common reasons for account limitations.
Limited Due to Suspicious Activity
Suspicious activity can vary. Common suspicious activities include posting fake news, supporting, promoting, or engaging with fake accounts, or behavior that otherwise leads to Twitter suspension. If an account is limited as a result of suspicious activity, Twitter will either limit the account or verify the account using a mobile phone. This is done to ensure that accounts are being used by real people. If unusual activity is detected, and a verification with a mobile phone is completed, access to user accounts may either be restored, or continue to be limited until a period of time has passed, and the account is no longer behaving in an aggressive or inappropriate way.
Limited Due to Violating Twitter Rules
Limiting an account as a result of violating Twitter rules will carry the most significant consequences, not unlike a temporary suspension. When this occurs, only current followers can be reached via DMs, and users will not be able to Tweet, Re-Tweet, link to other social networks, or truly engage in Twitter. From re-tweeting the words of a white supremacist, to posting hateful content or responses, there are numerous reasons to be limited on the social network. Sharing information from major news sites like ABC News, CBS News, and more are not typically used to justify violating the hateful conduct policy, but it is possible to do so if you post any content that can be considered inflammatory.
Twitter recently announced a new appeal system where you can submit a request to loosen all restrictions if you don’t want to deal with the limitations listed above. You can access that site together with instructions here.
Have any of you faced these restrictions before? Did your tweets come up when you searched for your name? Please comment below.
Further Reading: The 24 Best Twitter Tools for Marketing in 2023
Hero photo by Jørgen Håland on Unsplash
Twitter Account Restricted FAQs
The duration of a restriction on a Twitter account differs depending on the violation committed. When you see the error message saying that your account is restricted or some features have been limited, it will show how long you will get full functionality back. But typically, it may take between 12 hours up to 7 days. Restrictions are created to control abuse so make sure to check and abide by Twitter Rules to prevent account restrictions.
To unrestrict your Twitter account, simply log in and look for the message saying your account has temporarily been restricted. Then click the Start button and follow the steps asked to regain access. If you are unable to complete the steps, you may also reach out to their customer service and submit an appeal especially if you think you didn’t violate any rules. You can do this at their Help Center.
When your account gets suspended, you will receive an email notification explaining why or what have you violated. The only way to unsuspend a Twitter account is to submit an appeal and complete the form to submit a ticket. You need to convince them and explain well why you think your account shouldn’t get suspended or else your appeal will be denied. Once denied, the suspension of your account will be permanent.
To get your restricted Twitter back, you need to determine first the nature of the restriction. Typically, Twitter will tell you which specific content, tweet or activity is against Twitter Rules. To regain access, just log in on your app or website and find the message indicating your account or some of your features is locked . You will then see instructions on how to restore your account and simply follow the steps.
When a Twitter account is restricted, either you won’t have temporary access to your whole account, or some features may be temporarily disabled. For example, you won’t be able to post a tweet, do retweets, or like a tweet. There are couple of reasons why your account can get restricted. It may be due to aggressive behavior or spamming, posting duplicated content, or probably Twitter detected a possible hacking on your account.