Updated: Twitter users on Vodafone UK reporting "no escape" from the firehose of Tweets

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[Update: See statement from Twitter below] When Twitter ended it’s service sending Text messages to users in August 2008 after a year of throttling the service down, many users cried foul. Free incoming SMS had been available almost since launch and we’d become used to it. But as things go, we moved on. We learned to use Twitter on the mobile Web, then increasingly with new desktop apps like Tweetdeck. Then on March 26 Twitter re-launched the ‘free’ SMS service – but for Vodafone users only – and only for those with a certain subscription package.

But the whole thing is now starting to backfire as users are reporting that there is “no escape” from the service, resulting in a fire-house of texts as Twitter users chatter away incessantly.

It’s interesting that this happened to a much lesser extent back in the day when we used Twitter more as a pared-down status update service. Facebook without all the crap, if you like. Certainly I only remember receiving a few texts a day back in ’06. But since Twitter became a communication and conversation medium, and especially since the noobs arrived at the start of this year, there’s no stopping them.

Not only is the service sending every inane Tweet on SMS – it’s also coming up with errors. An increasing stream of comments coming in to TechCrunch Europe’s recent post on the SMS re-launch show that some Vodafone customers are finding their tweets “”repeated… a million times on Twitter” and other worrying errors.

Of course, there is the possibility that these are just people who don’t know how to adjust who they get SMS from. But here are some of the comments so far.

“radha” – April 10th, 2009

Sigh. Be careful what you wish for… there’s a Vodafone/Twitter glitch. One you sign up there may be no escape from texts from 84666.. I’ve received about 30 despite three calls to Vodafone customer service. V frustrating!

“Ryan Taylor” – April 12th, 2009

I too am experiencing the problems mentioned above, as well as tons of tweets i send being repeated like a million times on twitter

“Ashley” – April 12th, 2009

Be grateful if you aint on Vodafone, I signed up for tweets by text and in the past 24 hours I have received around 200 useless spam txts from Vodafone. It is impossible to stop these, if Vodafone can’t do anything about it I will be changing my mobile provider. ****ing useless so it is. I now have to have my phone on silent constantly, I woke this morning to 54 txt messages from twitter and I don’t have a block function on my phone.

“So frustrated and p***ed off!!”

“Richard” – April 12th, 2009

I have exactly the same problem – phone is becoming impossible to use. The texts all say that I| wont be getting any more texts – an irony if there was one.

“lisa” – April 12th, 2009

this absolutely takes the p*ss i’ve had at least a hundred texts telling me i won’t be getting any more texts, this is so annoying my phone is completely impossible to use now :(

UPDATE: Twitter says it has now fixed the problem. In a blog post , it said:

Two SMS bugs have been fixed that affected users on specific carriers (including Vodafone in the UK.) First, messages sent to Twitter were being posted multiple times. Second, Twitter did not respond appropriately to commands like OFF and ON.

Both of these problems are now resolved. Apologies for the confusion.

A statement from Vodafone reads:

Customers may still get a large number of text messages just simply because there are loads of tweets flying around so it’s advisable they turn on text alert tweets from certain users, rather than all the people they are following.

Whilst the above is a no-brainer for anyone who’s been using Twitter for a while, it may be useful to advise newcomers who could otherwise become inundated with tweets and subsequently with text messages.

For new users who’d like to set up the SMS service:
* Login to your account
* Select ‘Settings’ then ‘Devices’
* Enter your phone number & check the box saying ‘it’s ok for
Twitter to send me messages’
* Setup your device by texting the unique code to the shortcode
* For each person you are following you can then select if you
receive text updates or not

You can just send ‘OFF’ or ‘STOP’ to 86444 to stop receiving text alerts

To turn notifications on again, just text ‘ON’ to 86444 to start
receiving tweets as normal.

  • http://www.Jamesbody.com James Body

    Again, proof that it takes a certain amount of care, skill and intelligence to make an application work well.

    In it’s present form the Voda Twitter SMS app is fatally flawed!

  • http://blog.artesea.co.uk/ Ryan Cullen

    I doubt this is a Vodafone issue. The same is going on with the Canada shortcode too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Neil_Adam/791883787 Neil Adam

    Summary of my experience:

    1) Twitter didn’t give much help about how to use mobile. confused for a while until i saw how to select followers to receive tweets from. shame no option to get all @replies

    2) worked great after that initially

    3) sent “on” late last wk. kept getting messages say “on”

    4) tried sending “off”, then got on, off, on, off…

    5) sent tweet. only realised when back home it kept repeating

    6) tried turning tweets on/off via web. no good

    7) tried deleting and reinstating device profile. no difference except now get repeated device authorised tweets as well

    8) no get three repeating tweets that I sent via SMS and repeated on/off/authorised texts to mobile phone. decreased somewhat in frequency, but v annoying

    conclusion: Twitter problem. but just now they have bigger whales to fry :(

  • http://voipuser.org Martyn Davies

    I’ve found it quite useful with Twitter set to forward direct messages only, and it is useful to be able to send tweets via an SMS to 86444. However, I agree that the “firehose” with all messages on cannot work. I switched it on yesterday afternoon and this morning had 60 texts to go through…

  • http://joyunending.net Trialia

    Yep, it’s been making me crazy for the last three days, too – it’s anything I tweet by text, and it won’t stop! Tweets sent from anything *but* text aren’t affected.

    • http://www.fiestahendersonv.com/ FiestaHendersonNV

      totally agree with you!!!

  • Jules Morgan

    Dugg for ‘noobs’.

  • nikmagick

    yep = round and around go my messages !

  • http://twitter.com/robtsmith robtsmith

    I just use http://www.twe2.com !

  • http://www.realvermin.com/blog/why-vodafone-sucks Why Vodafone Sucks - Real Vermin

    […] this article on the amazing techcrunch:I think I can cope without SMS support for the timebeing. If you’re going […]

  • http://www.realvermin.com RealVermin

    A summary of my experience here: http://bit.ly/lxuS

  • http://uk.techcrunch.com Mike Butcher

    FYI this post has now been updated – Twitter says it has fixed the problem. See the post for details.

  • http://jamesmitchell.co.uk James

    It’s “cried foul”, not “cried fowl”, BTW.

  • http://corihuayta.blogspot.com/ TINTAENRED


  • http://link name

    Best Wishes!,

  • http://eu.techcrunch.com/2009/11/17/orange-and-twitter-sign-european-partnership-tweets-by-sms-just-the-start-twitter-on-your-tv-could-follow/ Orange and Twitter sign European partnership – tweets by SMS just the start, Twitter on your TV could follow

    […] Readers may remember that back in March, Vodafone UK ‘restored‘ the ability for customers to send and receive Tweets by SMS, although it didn’t launch without a few glitches. […]

  • http://www.edhatstore.com circa caps
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