On Monday (July 24), at 10:53 a.m. ET, hours before the Twitter signage was taken down at its company headquarters, I found my own Twitter account taken down. Technically, I was suspended, by this company that was seemingly crumbling from within — as CEO Elon Musk had confusingly decided to rebrand to X.
The message at the top of my Twitter timeline (or is it my X timeline now?) read "After careful review," (words I now chuckle at) "we determined your account broke the Twitter Rules. Your account is permanently in read-only mode, which means you can't Tweet, Retweet, or Like content. You won't be able to create new accounts. If you think we got this wrong, you can submit an appeal."
Those last three words were hyper-linked to a page I immediately clicked, but I realized I was more confused than I thought once I got to the appeals page.
I had no idea what Twitter/X had flagged me for
Looking at the prompt to submit my appeal, I was somewhat mystified. Twitter/X asks you submit a "Description of the problem." The problem, in my opinion, was that I'd been wrongfully flagged. If I took Twitter at its word, the problem was something I did, and something I couldn't figure out.
That was partially because I was also hit with a rate limit error, saying I'd used Twitter too much without paying for Blue. So, I filled it out in the most straight-forward and helpless way I could: "Twitter says I was suspended, but I have no idea why. Please help explain!" I wasn't the only one either.
I even tried appealing to the Twitter Press email address <email@example.com>, which no longer simply replies with the poop emoji, as had previously been reported. Instead, I got a reply saying "We'll get back to you soon."
They did not. Instead, I simply waited. All the while I knew that Monday was the day where Twitter was becoming X, which had been announced Sunday. X, for those who didn't hear, is supposed to be (per Musk himself), an "everything app," complete with payment services. A full-fledged Facebook alternative, which is laughable. For me, Twitter was a nothing app. At least at that moment.
Going cold turkey stinks
Twitter, Monday taught me, is my default app. It's one of a few apps and sites that I open first when I want to check the news or see what's going on. I curated a feed of news sources, I have my inbox of DMs. And I really use Twitter (probably excessively) when I watch TV shows and live events, to chat with friends about how what's happening.
Except now Twitter showed my account as having zero followers and followed accounts. It was all being eroded — something many friends of mine have experienced, I'm not trying to claim originality here — after years of use and upkeep.
As much as I play with all the new best Twitter alternatives, I've seen that Threads and Bluesky are not there yet. Mastodon is practically dead already, unless you're a certain kind of tech writer or tech industry worker. Threads direly needs a web app, and Bluesky's invite-only walled garden still feels like a self-inflicted failure.
And I kept wondering "what happened?" Looking at the twelve tweets of my own that I could see, I wondered if being lightly critical of Musk and the decision to pivot to X was how I broke some rule.
Eventually, I just started thinking about how this failure was the more obvious problem: Twitter has been falling apart for a while. Some tinkering in the transition to X — x.com finally redirects to Twitter — could have broken things.
And then I was back
Then, around 4 hours after my Twitter account was "suspended" ... it returned to normal. Without explanation from Twitter, everything worked well again. Nobody responded to that email I sent; I never got a notification.
This company wants us to send money with its tech? To trust them with our banking info? And sensitive messages in the DMs? I've never been more doubtful of its capability to do this all responsibly.
In fact, this is probably the event that's pushing me to rethink how I use my phone and everything else. All so I can one day "X" this app out of my life, and never look back
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Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.