Twitter Suddenly Locks Thousands Of Accounts [Update: Now Fixed]

Did you just get an e-mail from Twitter letting you know that your account had been locked? You’re not alone — not at all.

There seems to be a MASSIVE spike in the number of users complaining about their accounts being locked right now.

It’s unclear whether this is intentional on Twitter’s part, or if it’s an automated tool getting a bit overzealous.

Update: It was the latter. Twitter is currently working on the issue.

Many users are assuming it’s because they “follow back” — meaning they quickly (and generally automatically) follow anyone who follows them. Done right, it’s a way to boost your follow count in a mostly artificial and arguably useless way.

Others, however, argue that they’ve done nothing wrong — they just tweet a lot.

The email from Twitter to users says that each locked account “appears to have exhibited automated behavior that violates the Twitter Rules,” and that the lock was put in place to “protect Twitter from unauthorized logins.”

Given the recent increase in high-profile account hijackings of late — including that of Twitter’s own CFO, Anthony Noto — it’s likely that Twitter is hastily toiling away at its automated account-moderation tools. Crank the sensitivity too high too fast, and it’s easy to imagine lots of not-so-guilty accounts getting pulled in and locked by mistake.

We’ve reached out to Twitter for insight into what’s going on and will update this post if we hear back.

Update: Twitter writes:

We are aware of an issue where some users are unable to Tweet and have received a notice telling them they’ve been locked out.

Our engineers are currently investigating”

Update #2: Roughly an hour after the first locks hit, Twitter tells us the issue should be fixed. We’re still seeing reports of lock-outs trickle in, but they should start tapering off.