Twitter does, however, appear to be cracking down on other joke accounts, suspending them without warning and only sometimes reinstating them. These aren't bots and don't even resemble bots. They're just people being funny. Like this guy, who makes sure anyone who talks about Ska music STAYS IN LINE:
He was suspended this week, but eventually reinstated. And then there's this account, which responds to anyone using the phrase "as hell dude," which was suspended within 40 minutes of launching. Its creator says "it was an automatic spam filter," and that he had to go through an appeal process to get it back.
The best example is probably @Cool_pond. He's not even a gimmick account, just a goofy dude who tweets a lot. Recently, though, he started making custom animated avatars for people (see here). First he was doing them by request, but after a while he started making unsolicited ones and tweeting them at brands, which apparently triggered a string of suspensions.
Again: these were clearly jokes, made by a human! As far as Pond can tell, nobody even reported him. Here's what he said has happened:
well, i got suspended for the 2nd time today without warning and without any specific reasons from twitter. so anyways, i submitted a ticket and got the attached email back....responded and said sorry or whatever all nice-like and ...well... now i wait!
We reached out to Twitter to comment, and were directed to this blog post on the company's site. Specifically this portion:
[E]arlier this week, our engineers launched new anti-spam measures within Twitter to more aggressively suspend a new type of @ mention spam.
What appears to have happened here is that in an effort to stop bots that spam certain terms — think "iPad" and "mortgage" — Twitter's tools have starting picking off some of the service's weirder, and funnier, jokesters. A search for "account suspended" on Twitter suggest that these three are just the very tip of the iceberg.
Twitter is a valuable network, a great news source, and all that, sure, whatever. But it's also a playground, much more so than any of the other social networks. It's home to a breed of refined and wonderful absurdity that you can't find on Facebook or for that matter in real life. Sometimes that absurdity has a pattern, yes, but sometimes that's the joke. While forcing every novelty account to go through multiple suspension appeals won't be fatal to Twitter humor, it'll certainly but a damper on it.
Blanket-banning everyone who even faintly resembles a bot is very bot-like behavior, Twitter. There's got to be a better way to stop spam.