Twitter, where art thou?

A strange thing happened to me at the end of February: I got banned from Twitter FOR LIFE*. (see update at end)

Yes, for LIFE: @edrybicki, my handle for 12+ years and which has 4000-odd followers, is no more.

How, you ask? After all, I’m not a malignant orange narcissist, or someone guilty of war crimes, or someone who peddles lies about vaccines or diseases, or threatens violence to all and sundry.

Except, according to Twitter Central, I AM that last thing.

Some context here: my long-time Twitter and social media friend Ian Mackay put up the next in a long series of cat pictures that he takes in his garden, while walking his cats – all dressed up in their little harnesses. This is it:

mackay cat

To which I replied, in the spirit of things,

“@MackayIM Come near me with that feckin’ lead and I rip your face…”

It was a bit of a surprise later that I discovered I couldn’t tweet anything – and when I reloaded Twitter on my browser to fix it, I get this message:

So I submit an appeal, with the facts of the case, and get this:


After investigating your appeal, we have determined that your account posted content that was threatening and/or promoting violence in violation of the Twitter Terms of Service. Accordingly, your account has been suspended and will not be restored.

I looked up why, and got this:

Specifically, for:

“Violating our rules against posting violent threats. You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people.”

I submitted ANOTHER appeal, with the facts as shown, and got this:


We’re reviewing your appeal. 

We’ll respond as soon as possible, and we appreciate your patience while we review your account. 



And…nothing. I have tried to submit appeals again twice, and get exactly the same responses, meaning there are NO humans in the loop AT ALL.

Let me reiterate: this was in response to a picture of a CAT wearing a harness and standing on its hind legs, looking aggressive. This was in NO way a threat of violence against anyone, or demonstrating aggression. It was harmless, in Ian’s (@mackayim) own words in an email supporting my previous appeal:

Re: Case# 0255238514: Appealing an account suspension – @edrybicki    [ ref:_00DA0K0A8._5

Please Twitter support, this was friendly banter and the mimicry of a cat!

This was not violent or in any way intending harm to me as the recipient.

Could you revoke this block? There is no harm done here.

Still nothing.

I have pointed out that ” I am a well-respected Twitter user who uses his account to inform the lay public and students about viruses, and in fact directly for teaching University-level undergraduates and informing people about vaccines”, and that I have never – in more than 12 years – threatened anyone with anything. Moreover, I have even extolled the virtues of using Twitter and other social media for teaching purposes – see here – and firmly believe in this, and am now unable to do it.


I am now in a situation where I have to get the 5-odd essential articles I used to pick up on every day second-hand, via emails from sympathetic tweeps or from my students. I also cannot engage in idle banter with the MANY folk I used to interact with, and I seriously miss it. I am also getting messages via platforms as diverse as LinkedIn, ResearchGate and Facebook asking me what happened to @edrybicki – and I can only say “ask Twitter”.

So please do that, won’t you, if you see this?

Thank you.

* And what do you know: thanks to a vigorous campaign by Ian Mackay and Larry Lynam, and MANY people who read this post and tagged Twitter Support – I got my account back! No apologies, and in fact, they demanded I delete my “humorous” tweet, but @edrybicki is back!! Thanks, all!! B-)

10 Responses to “Twitter, where art thou?”

  1. Devang Mehta Says:

    Hi Ed,
    Do you have an email address for the folks at twitter whom people could write to in support? This is just ridiculous.

    • Ed Rybicki Says:

      Hi Devang: there is precious little one can do except engage with their appeal email, or via @TwitterSupport or @TwitterSafety. And then you get the dumb ‘bots again…!

  2. Mart Says:

    Sorry to hear about this, Ed! Hopefully, some human being on the Twitter end gets involved and restores your account soon.

  3. Larry Lynam Says:

    Ed, I am stunned as I read this post. I was just thinking today, I haven’t seen any tweets from you lately, so when I got home from the grocery I started poking around Twitter then went to Google and found this blog post. I am stunned. I’ve seen some ridiculous over-reactions in my life but this is on a scale I never even imagined possible. The fact no one at Twitter has enough sense to understand their error is beyond bizarre to me. Good lord.

    Pop me an email and let me know if there is anything I can try to do see if we can get someone there to understand the ridiculousness of what they have done. Unreal.

  4. Curtis Says:

    Oh dear. This is dreadful. Your absence has been noted on Twitter with cc’s to Twitter support. Hope to see you back on Twitter soon!

  5. Ian Says:

    Hi Ed,
    After some amplification of this blog piece by Larry on Twitter and a very pestery campaign by me this afternoon (sorry all those Twitter humans😋) – with many thanks to my very helpful Tweeps and their networks – someone at Twitter just reinstated your account. Now. No more speaking in cat tongues please. Good things do still happen!

    • Ed Rybicki Says:

      Ian, thank you and your tweeps SO much! I had given up, to tell you the truth – I never got a human response to any message, so I resigned myself to being Gone forever. Yes, good things do happen – because of good people 😁

  6. Kevin J. Maroney Says:

    Has your account been unsuspended? I can see tweets on @edrybicki more recent than the tweet that is tagged as “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules”. While my account was “permanently suspended”, it was completely invisible.

  7. Larry Lynam Says:

    Ed, welcome back to Twitter. When I saw this post I immediately screen shot it, linked the blog post, and tweeted it. It had over 700 retweets and likes and replies in a few hours. Apparently the collective tweets got them to look again and your ban has been lifted. You are back, my friend. Your Twitter pals and fans all await your first new tweet.

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