SB Nation has just over 300,000. It did so last Friday. It disappeared almost immediately from the internet, disappearing for nearly a week. The account disappeared from the profile page.
An SB Nation employee attempted to log in to @sbnation last Friday. They did this to follow @cutwaterspirits on Twitter, which is owned by Cutwater, an adult beverage manufacturer that sponsored some SB Nationcontent. It’s quite normal to follow sponsors, especially if you’re tweeting co-branded content.
After they signed in, they were presented with the prompt to add a birthday. This was strange because SB Nation isn’t a person, and SW Nation doesn’t have one. The employee chose something random, as would anyone else in such a situation. They set 1/1/2000 for the birthday, hit save, and that was it. That was the last time anyone saw @sbnation’s Twitter account.
I was able recreate the situation by logging into an old account and then trying to follow Cutwater. Jack Daniel’s. Or Budweiser, Stella Artois, or any other adult-beverage company I could think of. Once I clicked “Follow”, a window appeared asking me to update and complete my profile. To follow this account, please include your birthdate on your profile. This will ensure that you meet the minimum age requirements.
I came across a Twitter feature called age screening, which was created by the company in 2012 to make it easier to promote alcohol companies on Twitter. Screening was only one step. New followers had to verify their age by adding their birthdate to their profile.
Age screening is only one step. New followers must prove their age by adding their birthdate to their profile.
My account was created June 13, 2009. I had to add a date of birth that would have made it 13 years old at the time. I chose May 1995 so that I would have turned 14. It allowed me to add my birthday and follow any liquor brands that I could find. My account was locked when I changed my birthday to January 1, 2000. “Our Terms of Service require that everyone who uses Twitter must be 13 years old or older,” the page stated. I was now being punished for having violated Twitter’s age guidelines 14-years ago.
I was directed to a form asking for my full name, email address and a photo of my driver’s licence. After I completed all of the information, I received a reply stating that my request was being processed. My account was restored the next day.
My account, however, said the same thing SW Nation did: “This account does not exist.”
In theory, this should be an easy problem. You will need to complete a form and all the details. SB Nation has contacts at Twitter. They are the people who manage partnerships with companies such as Vox Media, and unlike my old account, which had 21 followers, also has a form to fill out. Jermaine Spradley , SB Nation ‘s editor, says that “I didn’t have a really thought on it.” “It was more like, it has to be fixable pretty quickly.” Accounts have been locked out for years, but Twitter seems to always have a way to turn it back on. Twitter informed the SB Nation that it was working on it, but then it went silent for nearly a week.
A sports blog had to keep its flagship account locked for the week. The weekend was dominated by the Final Four, particularly the women’s final. It was the opening weekend of Major League Baseball. The NBA playoff race was heating. The Masters was near. It was a fantastic time in the sports calendar, and it is difficult to lock out Sports Twitter. Although the publication has many other Twitter accounts, it was hurt to lose its flagship.
Three things could be happening, according to some people within the company. One is that Twitter, and Elon Musk, its owner, has something against SB Nation. It seems unlikely. Second, Twitter is incredibly busy right now. It’s possible that there is a large support queue. There are also thousands less people at Twitter to handle it. Everything just seems to move slower. The third reason is that something larger, more fundamentally broken and no one knows how to fix it.
Twitter representatives finally reached out to me on Thursday. They stated that they did not have any updates, but that they had some context. They explained that there was “a bug” that the team was working on to restore the account. They didn’t give details about the bug or when it would be fixed. They didn’t reply to my DM asking for additional information.
But, late Thursday night, @sbnation suddenly resurfaced on Twitter. This happened a while after my DM. However, I can’t prove it had anything to do. Twitter sent an alert to the SB Nation team advising them that the account had been restored. It also included another rather ominous message: Don’t change your date of birth.
The bigger question remains. Many feel that Twitter is becoming more fragile every day. It feels like new problems are appearing faster than anyone can solve them. Twitter Blue is already being used by some high-profile media companies and users, but many people I have spoken to consider it a waste of money. Many Twitter users feel that the company may be in danger of falling apart. @sbnation might have been an almost-casualty.