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Bloggers: How NOT to Fall Foul of Twitter by Mairead Hearne

Article by writingie © 15 August 2017 Mairead Hearne .
Posted in the Magazine ( · News for Writers · The Big Idea ).

I became an invisible blogger for a few days recently and I didn’t like it very much! Let me give you a little background about myself first and I’ll tell you what happened.

I initially started my blog, Swirl and Thread, in February 2016, with an idea that I wanted to learn more about web design. Instead it took me on a very unexpected journey. Swirl and Thread’s name derived from two simple facts – I loved books and I wanted to learn how to sew. Having grown up in a household that was always full of threads and fabric, I felt I needed to learn the craft myself. And I did!! I took classes, I bought a sewing machine, I proudly watched my kids wear some of my creations and I wrote a couple of blog posts about it.

At the same time I wrote a few small reviews about books from my own personal collection and I soon discovered that I loved it! I struggled with writing about my sewing efforts but books….well that was another story!

Getting your word out to the world is a very difficult thing to do. I spent many a late night trawling Twitter, commenting on posts etc to raise my profile. But, as time passed, I noticed a significant number of book bloggers sharing each other’s posts and spreading the word far and wide about bookish stuff. Who were all these bloggers? How could I become part of their gang?

While there are many, many fantastic people in this community, it was Anne Cater and Anne Williams who welcomed me with open arms into the wonderful group known as BookConnectors, the most incredible resource on Facebook for both bloggers and writers to freely interact with each other. No rules…just be nice and show respect.

I had ‘found my tribe’.

I have met the most amazing bloggers in the online community, many whom I now happily call my friends and who are there for me when I need them…which I did last week! On Wednesday I felt something was amiss over on Twitter….there was a stillness creeping in…

Thursday I realised I had a very serious problem – nobody could hear me ROAR! But what made this even more strange is that it wasn’t just me….

Now I have no idea how familiar any of you are with this, but as I have since discovered, it appears that I, and many of my blogging colleagues, were victims of Ghost/Shadow Banning. Basically Twitter had marked us as spam. I am going to use Wikipedia’s definition to try and explain:

‘Stealth banning (also called shadow banning, ghost banning or comment ghosting) is the act of blocking a user from an online community such that the user does not realize that they have been banned. By making a problem user’s contributions invisible or less prominent to other members of the service, the hope is that in the absence of reactions to their comments, the problematic user will become bored or frustrated and leave the site. If the user never becomes aware that they were banned, it will not occur to them to attempt to circumvent that ban.’

What this actually meant for me (and other bloggers) was that for a number of days my notifications were disappearing into a void. I was unable to tag anyone. I was unable to interact with anyone. I was unable to have a ‘conversation’ with anyone. I would receive tweets with comments and queries from others, but my responses in return were going un-noticed. Now, to anyone who knows me well, I have always liked to be heard. I’m not one to shy away from giving my opinion so this was a whole new frustrating experience for me.

As a book blogger I share posts on Twitter, I share lots of posts. Every morning part of my daily routine, and that of many book bloggers, is to check out other’s posts and RT/share to the greater reading community and our followers. As the community has grown so has the number of posts being shared. This, I always thought, was a good thing as it spreads the word about new releases and authors etc to a wider audience.


This rap on the knuckles from Twitter, though extremely distressing and frustrating for me at the time, was indeed an eye-opener. My Twitter feed needed a good shake-up. I was in danger of becoming just an automated sharer, not reading the reviews I was sharing and not partaking in any social interaction. Twitter, as we all know, is a method of social media but, I discovered, I was not being very sociable.

By making a few small changes I’m hoping not to experience this again so my advice to others is simple:

Be sociable, have chats with folks.

Post without links.

Do not get caught up in re-posting your own link numerous times over the day.

Post images eg books you might be reading.

Post something personal (I recently posted an image of my dog discovering a love for loo roll!). Folks like to see a little of who’s behind the blog.

By all means share others posts but DO NOT let that be the full extent of your daily feed.

And, most importantly: have fun and do not become a spammer!

(c) Mairead Hearne

About Swirl and Thread:

I started Swirl and Thread in February 2016.

My background is in sales and account management in the Telecoms sector, having a business & marketing degree (B.Comm) and a diploma in computer studies. When my kids were born I left this career and became a full time mother with all the challenges that that entails.

Over the years I have been involved in many groups and have done charity work but I felt I really wanted to do something new and exciting for me.

Currently my main content is very much book related. I really didn’t ever realise what a mad mad world the book blogging arena is. I have met so many amazing people, both on- and offline and I have been honoured to read some wonderful books.

I am married to a very patient man and have two wonderful kids, all who make me laugh and smile every single day. I count myself very lucky with them in my life and have always striven to be a good role model to them.

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