twitter expert
Updated 14 Sep 2020

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Twitter Jail

Twitter jail is what happens to your account when you break one of twitter's limits or rules. It usually means that your twitter account has been shadowbanned, or that twitter has suspended or locked your account.

  • A twitter suspension means that your twitter account has been permanently disabled. You can't tweet anymore and all your previous tweets will be hidden from other twitter users.
  • A twitter shadowban means that twitter is limiting the visibility of your tweets and profile. Twitter says that they don't shadowban users, but they do use many 'quality signals' to decide how visible stuff should be.
  • A twitter lock means that twitter has temporarily limited your account. You can usually unlock your twitter account by following their instructions.

Suspensions tend to be related to rule violations, shadowbans are closely aligned to content issues, and locks are more related to exceeding limits.

What are the limits on Twitter?

Twitter has many limits which are designed to limit abuse and improve system quality. Some limits are per hour, while other limits are per day. Let's look at the limits we know about:

  • The tweet limit is 2400 tweets per day. (Also known as the daily update limit, this limit is also broken down into semi-hourly limits)
  • The direct message limit is 1000 DM's sent per day.
  • The follow limit is 400 follows made per day. (In practice the follow limit is much lower though)

You can also change your email address 4 times a day, and when you follow 5000 people you will face more limits on following. The twitter API has an hourly limit - the API is what all apps (like twiends) use. This means that all apps are limited in how much they can use the API each hour.

There are also many hidden limits on twitter, ranging from tweet interactions, to unfollowing and blocking. Many signals will trigger actions when certain hidden limits are reached.

If you hit a limit you'll usually see a limit error message telling you to cool off, and you should be able to try again within a day or a few hours.

How do you get in twitter jail?

If you break one of twitter's rules then they will take action. Twitter has many tools to monitor users and automatically detect issues.

Sometimes they will only know you have broken a rule after other twitter users have reported you. In some situations a twitter employee will place you in twitter jail if they discover an issue.

If you have broken an important rule then twitter is likely to suspend your account. Some examples of this would be:

  • Tweeting something criminal
  • Sending malware or phishing links via direct messages
  • Posting extremely graphic content (porn, gore, etc.)
  • Impersonating another account
screenshot of suspended account

If it's a less important rule then twitter may just lock your twitter account or derank your tweets. Here are some examples:

  • Sending too many spammy tweets
  • Being a troll and posting offensive comments repeatedly
  • Tweeting out fake information about trending topics such as coronavirus (covid-19)
  • Tweeting fake stories about Trump, Biden, or any other politically hot topic
  • Churning - aggressively following and unfollowing others
  • Attaching offensive hashtags to your tweets.
  • Repeatedly exceeding the 400 follows per day limit.
screenshot of locked account

These minor issues usually relate to twitter's hidden limits. The point here is that it's more about the negative signals they create on your tweets, rather than you having done something 'wrong'.

When a lot of people disagree with you then they are likely to report your tweets more, and it's these reports that can tip your account over the edge. Note that retweets can also cause issues here too, and new accounts will experience even tighter limits on twitter.

How to get out of twitter jail?

Getting out of twitter jail can be hard if your account has been suspended. You will need to ask twitter support to review the suspension. This will usually only work if they have made a mistake.

Be prepared for long battle. Twitter's service is free after all, so they don't have to provide support to you. And let's be honest, are you really willing to sue twitter as some have done?

If your twitter account is just locked then you can unlock it yourself quickly. This normally involves using your phone number to verify your account. Do the obvious things first like making sure your profile is up-to-date and your account email is verified.

screenshot of locked account

For shadow-banning things are a little murkier, as you may not be shadow-banned. Your tweets may just not be considered 'quality' enough to be shown widely.

As they don't publish their quality metrics there's no real way to know. Just keep tweeting the best tweets you can and in theory twitter should start making them more visible.

If you have a social media manager working your account then you may want to do a review with them in order to prevent future issues.

How long will it last?

Forever, if twitter has suspended you. If you are locked then you can be out of jail as quickly as it takes you to verify your account.

If you are hitting twitter's limits often then change the way you use twitter. Twitter has announced their limits, but they don't announce their hidden limits. So use twitter cautiously again.

You'll need to hope the twitter gods are smiling upon you. Twitter & Facebook are facing increasing scrutiny, so expect tighter control from them in future.

Twiends™ uses the Twitter™ API, displays it's logo & trademarks, and is not endorsed or certified by them. These items remain the property of Twitter. We do not sell followers, we only provide display advertising. Bots & fake accounts are not permitted on twiends. © 2009
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