This was the very first tweet I sent on April 21, 2009 at 9:46 PM from an account I made through SMS on my Nokia 2600c. It was a simple tweet, aimed at nobody in particular. I had no followers on that day 7 years ago. I followed nobody either. I was simply testing the waters of something that wouldn’t become important to me until much later.
I fired off two more tweets in the next two days. “Sittin in my bed” and “Wonders if sam knows anyone else wit twitter”. The lack of punctuation in those micro-blogs are as cringeworthy today as they are difficult to type in my text editor. If find there is no great way to intentionally skip a period without wanting to immediately fix it. Anyway, these were the last tweets I’d push through 40404, Twitter’s SMS service number, until September of that year.
“Can any of my ‘followers’ tell me if you see this ‘tweet’?”
This was my last tweet from @jacobtender, still seen by nobody. The story from here onward is foggy, but I’ve been piecing it together for 7 years while simultaneously pleading with Twitter to restore access to the account after I was locked out—possibly for good. Here’s a timeline to break it down.
- The account @jender4 is created by myself at 11:29 AM on the 11th.
- The account @jacobtender is created by myself at 9:41 PM on the 21st
Before regaining access to the account—which I’ll go into in a bit—I believed that I had used Twitter SMS to create @jacobtender before creating the account that I would later use as my primary account (@jender4). That was wrong. My primary account was actually made first, followed by the one I would lose. Still following? Let’s dig deeper.
My main Twitter account (first @jender4, then @curbsideaudio) was made on a public computer at the Rittman Public Library on a Saturday. It must have been while trying to connect to Twitter through my phone ten days later that I created @jacobtender, which was a better name to begin with. I sent off a few tweets from my phone having no idea that they weren’t being published online through the account I had intended.
- I ask my followers if they can see my tweet. That tweet is typed on my phone and published through @jacobtender on the 19th.
- “First Tweet” was the first tweet sent from @jender4 on the 24th.
Here I can only speculate that I gave Twitter SMS one last go after being told by friends (namely the aforementioned Sam) that my tweets weren’t going through on the account they were following. Some time between the 19th and 24th I logged in on another public computer  and assigned my cell phone number to the account my friends were following.
That’s when everything fell apart for the handle I should have been using. Honestly, I didn’t give a second thought to abandoning @jacobtender for some time. I continued to use Twitter without using a computer. SMS worked just fine. I even had this handy “tweet sheet” created by Jason Theodor to remember all of the commands. It wasn’t until a year or so later, when I began properly blogging, that I wanted that name back. That wasn’t going to be easy though and I knew it.
Twitter support was certainly less rigid than it is now but, even in 2011, an active email address associated with the account you wished to access was required. The trick in my case was that there was no email address attached to the account I wanted. It was made with a phone number as the primary contact. That phone number was stripped away from the account when I attached it to the other account I was using with my friends. Had there been a disclaimer explaining that this could happen, maybe I wouldn’t have hit okay. Allowing someone to use a phone number on a second account sounds glitchy now, but Twitter was still young at this point. The preventative measures today that would protect someone like me from a total account lockout did not exist at this point. All I could do was hope support would look into it and hand over access to someone with no solid claim to it. The next 5 years were filled with emails and support tickets. All futile. My pleas fell on deaf ears at Twitter and my hopes were dashed time and time again.
I got close once. In 2012, a friend in the valley put me in touch with a support tech at Twitter. She was on maternity leave and later left the company. From then on, I was determined to find someone else on the inside that could help. Weird thing is, a lot of people left Twitter at this point. By 2014, none of my friends in San Francisco knew anyone at Twitter anymore. I met a few people through the music industry that offered to put me in touch with someone, but none of them came through in the end. With Twitter’s increasingly strict policies from both user and employment standpoints, asking anyone to make a request on my behalf to someone they knew on the inside would be listed under the “putting them out” category. I get that. I don’t like being used either.
I continued putting in support requests with various angles of explanation of the situation. I’d start a new case every few months, hoping I’d catch the right support agent on the right day. That never happened, but someone else heard my plea.
On April 14, I sent a request to Twitter Support asking for access to the account. The response email I received the next morning wasn’t even on topic. Frustrated, I took to Twitter to complain. I also mentioned it to a fairly new friend over a text message. That friend, a developer in San Fransisco, took it upon themselves to see who they could get ahold of at Twitter. I didn’t ask questions, I just waited with bated breathe as he relayed ticket numbers and responses back and forth between myself and a mysterious stranger who had escalated my case. Within a half of an hour, I received a response from Twitter support asking me for 4 declarative statements. After sending them what they needed, they assigned an email address of my choosing to the account and I was in. After 7 years of soul-crushing stares at an abandoned Twitter account bearing my name, @jacobtender was finally mine once again. I don’t think I’ve smiled that brightly in years.
Maybe it’s silly that I put so much effort and thought into having my name as my handle on a social networking website. There are certainly other things my will-power could be used for. Still, Twitter has been a huge tool in the advancement of my career and my personal life as well. Every job I’ve loved came through contacts made on Twitter. I met my girlfriend there. Some of the best friends and closest confidants I could have ever asked for were first engaged by an @reply. Twitter is a big deal to me and how I appear there is important. I feel like myself now in a way that I couldn’t when tweeting under @curbsideaudio, a name people have actually used to address me in real life situations. It’s always been my hope that people who follow me online will remember my name, not my Twitter handle. That’ll be a lot easier now.
As of today, I can be found on Twitter as @jacobtender. This blog can be followed at @curbsideaudio. This change has been a long time coming and I feel great about it. The blog has been and always will be an extension of myself, but my Twitter is 100% me—unfiltered.
My family didn’t have a computer properly connected to the Internet until I was in college. ↩
- My endless thanks to both of you. You know who you are. ↩