As if getting publicity wasn’t hard enough for a small company, twitter has once again suspended our account without explanation. We are left in the dark, left to count the days until we can get some sort of response from the media company. But this isn’t new, back in January of this year twitter suspended our account for “follower churn”, it was explained to them that hackers had hacked our accounts, our passwords being changed frequently without our notice. We had asked twitter to become a verified account and receive improved security measures, but we were denied a verified account.
January’s suspension couldn’t have come at a worse time. Heavy rains had brought Cusco to a standstill and the closure of Machu Picchu occurred shortly thereafter, during this entire period we were unable to offer any valuable advice through our twitter account. I was really annoyed at twitter then and even more now.
Many of you have have heard about our organization directly through our twitter account. For over a year now we have been bringing you the latest news and travel information from Peru. It’s no small task as we always try to bring you the hard to find stories and in English nonetheless. Before our suspension we had over 13,300 followers gained through hard work and the daily tweeting of more then 20 tweets a day. We hope that this free service that we provide continues promptly, and that twitters only response is to reactivate our account.
In the Hackers Scopes
Our very first run in with hackers occurred in June of 2009 when they tore up our Perupedia website. These hackers from Chile managed to put up some pretty tasteless images and demonstrated their contempt for Peru. A victory in their eyes I suppose, I wouldn’t say the same as I was able to block them all from accessing the site and fixed all that had been changed to the site. A complete waste of time on both sides really.
In August they returned but this time to our blog, they managed to cripple our database by creating false user accounts and accessing back door options. Again this was quickly fixed by us and they were held off once again. It wasn’t until January of this year that we began to notice that we were unable to sign in to our twitter account, starting a cycle of constantly changing our passwords around. It was also in January that our account was suspended by twitter for the first time, taken down for a week until we finally received a reply from twitter accusing us of “Follower Churn”, which is the aggressive following and unfollowing of people on twitter. Doing this is the quickest way to get banned on twitter, so it’s pretty easy to conclude that anyone wanting to take out an account would use this measure. Now that it has happened a second time twitter is liable to suspend our account indefinitely, we just hope they hear us out.
If your wondering why I didn’t call this post Hackers vs. Karikuy it’s because hackers will always exist, the war between Peruvian Hackers and Chilean Hackers has been there since the computer age began. Unfortunately we are caught in the middle, we did not instigate this attack but are simply a target to them. It is up to twitter to address these problems, loopholes in their system that would allow anyone to hack and bring down an account. This is why we blame Twitter and why you may not see our return to the twitter verse. It is very hard to spend a lot of time on something, watch it grow, gain a following only to have it torn down before your eyes. Worse still is the fact that the company who got you to sign up and spend so much time on their product is the one who ultimately decides your fate.
So What’s Next?
As I mentioned there is no guarantee that twitter will reactivate our current account. The only people that can help us there is you, if you would kindly send a tweet to @support asking to reinstate our account we would greatly appreciate it. In the meantime we have created an alternative account in case we have to start all over, it’s called KarikuyPeru, and should look very familiar. Please show your support and follow us. We cant thank you enough for following us over the past year and hope you share this blog post with your friends. We also recommend you change your passwords temprorarily if you own a large and public twitter account to avoid being targeted by hackers.
We will keep you updated on our battle with twitter, in the meantime we will be updating our twitter apps found on our blog or webpage with the new account. Our customers should also know that these hacker attacks do not affect billing. We do not ask for any personal information through our website other then your email and since Google handles our secure payments we do not handle any of your credit card information.
Update: It took twitter 7 days to respond to our emails before reactivating our account. In the end they activated it as nonchalantly as they suspended it. It was a very simple response really “We have activated your account if you do not follow our terms of service your account could be suspended permanently” just like that without an explanation or solution to our constant hacker problems. I mean sure I bet they are pretty busy over there Twitter Co. but I am once again confused as to whether to keep investing time in a service that at any given minute could suspend my account without warning. In fact the only reason we continue to tweet is because of our awesome readers, we really appreciate them, their feedback and support. Here’s to the next suspension.