Tuesday September 20th 2022
A Twitter account run by Edinburgh City Council which serves as a vital resource for picking up residents’ questions and complaints has been suspended.
Moderators of the social media platform accused the user of attempting to avoid a ban but the council said it ‘obviously believes this to be an error’.
The @edinhelp page has over 8,000 followers and responds to Tweets about everything from overflowing bins to roadworks, receiving hundreds of queries every week.
The council was notified of the suspension last Wednesday and wrote on it’s official Twitter page it was “experiencing technical issues” with the customer service account.
In a briefing note to members, it added: “Twitter has suspended our account due to ‘ban evasion’ – which is where someone sets up a new account to get access to Twitter when they have already been banned.
“We obviously believe this to be an error and have appealed the suspension. We’re currently awaiting the results of this appeal but don’t have any timescales on when it will be resolved.”
Twitter’s ‘ban evasion’ policy was introduced in 2020 to ‘prohibit attempts to circumvent prior enforcement, including through the creation of new accounts’.
The suspension raised eyebrows amongst some users, who were quick to react.
Sue Webber, former Conservative city councillor and now an MSP, asked the council: “What on earth have you guys tweeted!?!”
Edinburgh Bus Users Group added: “Is @edinhelp back online/if not is there any indication when?”
Others complained that as Tweets from the account have disappeared, past responses and incident reference numbers are no longer available.
Another user said suggested Twitter “must be inundated with reports to have made this kind of error”.
They added: “Please reinstate @TwitterSupport the people of Edinburgh need this help account from our council.”
The local authority said until the page is restored, social media support can be accessed through it’s official City of Edinburgh Council account.
It said: “Our Customer team will be available 24/7 for any requests or questions, in addition to the reporting available on our website.
“We don’t believe there is any security risk. There hasn’t been any unauthorised access to the account and we’re confident there’s no wider issue beyond the need to simply get the account back up and running.
“We know that the edinhelp account on Twitter is valued and we’re very disappointed to not be able to offer the service at the time. In the last week alone, the team have managed over 6,000 messages and tweets, providing advice and support to residents and visitors attending ceremonial events in the city.”
Phil Bowen, owner of Pigeon Penguin Web & App Development, said:
“The incident illustrates how companies and organisations are dependent on Social Media but are then relatively powerless to resolve issues when it does not work as they have no direct contractual arrangement with the likes of Twitter and Facebook. They have no one to whom they can pick up the phone to and say ‘We have a problem you must fix it.'”
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