I woke up on August 12th and my Twitter account was stolen. This is not a small account. I have 130,000 followers.

Is it too optimistic to use the present tense? I’m not sure, because there is still a picture of a cat in the spot that should be me.

I remember the early days of Twitter. Someone emailed me ten million times to ask me if I wanted a verified account. I thought, why would I want that? But I did it.

When Twitter was small peanuts and I had a coveted verified account, it only took me three emails to get to them. I want to tell you I’ve sent 300 emails to them, and there would be some poetic irony, or at least some poetic rhythm. But in order to do anything with Twitter you have to be able to give them an email that is associated with the account.

What? How does that work? Obviously if my account were attached to my email then I would not have a stolen account.

But then I think, okay, I get it. It’s like if I called up Chase Bank and I said, someone took my account and now my name and password are not associated with my money. Can you get it back for me?

I search a little. Twitter has no way to for me to talk to them if I do not have an account.

Since I cannot send a tweet, I send an email out asking if friends, or friends of friends, know someone at Twitter. A friend connects me to Laura.

She tells me to do three things you cannot do if you have a stolen account.

After each suggestion for something that doesn’t work she says, “So do that and then I’ll escalate the case.”

Over two weeks I engage in a Kafkaesque conversation with Laura.

She writes: Please send me a confirmation code.

I get this missive during cello practice. I homeschool a musician. He practices all day and I’m his moral support. Though I’m not averse to immorally sneaking some efforts on Twitter while praising his overly enthusiastic effort at Bach.

I try twice to get a code. I write back that I can’t get a code.

What does Laura do all day at Twitter? I hope something super important because my son gets two hours of practice in before she responds.

Can you try again? In it?

I assume that she is paying attention to her job, and I am paying attention to my job, but my job is, theoretically, is to make sure getting into Juilliard is not the highlight of my kid’s life. He has to keep practicing. I have to keep my eye on the ball.

So I am telling him use a metronome and slow down the metronome, while he argues with me from behind his music stand, I go back to the Twitter support page, assuming that Laura knows what she’s talking about and I’m not paying close enough attention.

I ask her if there is something else I can do.

I do this quickly, because I am telling my son he needs to have more focus. “It’s not just how many hours you put in,” I tell him. “You have to put in good hours. What is your goal for the next half-hour?”

“To have a mom who doesn’t like her phone more than her son.”

I should tell him to shut up. I should tell him he is the only kid in the world whose mom stays home all day practicing cello — and piano — I haven’t even gotten to that yet — and still solely supports the family. I’m pissed.

Also, though, I’m a career coach, which is a joke because no one wants a career where you get paid to use a Twitter account and then when it gets fucking stolen you have to rely on someone like Laura who keeps asking the same stupid questions varying only her unpredictable prepositions.

But I coach a lot of people who say they grew up with a single mom and the thing that was the hardest for them was their mom had such a hard time being all alone that they got the brunt of her emotional stress.

So I say, “Honey, I’m so sorry. You are so important to me. And I’m so happy to help by supporting you while you practice.”

Then I tell him I’ll be right back and I sneak into the kitchen and type. “Laura fuck you and fuck Twitter and obviously you have no fucking idea how to help me so stop your interrogation and ask someone who does know what the fuck they’re doing to fucking help you. And fuck you. And fuck Twitter.”

I delete that and write, “Is there someone else you know at the company who could help me?”

The metronome continues and it is too fast, but I cannot fix everything.

When we start piano, I get excited to check my email. I have a deal with my son that I’ll do cello with him, but he’s on his own for piano. So I sit next to the piano for two hours working. It’s a perfect time to talk with Laura. As if this is a conversation. But she is gone.

For a week.

Other people who have a 130,000 followers might have done something more during that week. All I did was hate Twitter. Because during that week I found out I’m one payment short on my son’s new cello. The cello dealer wants to come repossess the cello.

I want to say, do you know who I am? I could kill your whole reputation with just one tweet. But the cello world doesn’t care about Twitter.

Thank god, really, since I don’t have an account anymore.

Loss is traumatic. I have lost my Twitter account and almost lost a cello. I cannot make headway with the dealer because I cannot figure out how to find an extra $10,000. So I go back to Twitter.

“Laura. Nothing is happening and it’s been weeks. Can you send me a phone number I can call?”

I do a few more days of cello practice and not piano practice. I field an email from the piano teacher telling me that the lesson is changed for Thursday and I can’t remember what my other son has on Thursday but I know there’s going to be a conflict. But I have read research about how we fixate on what we have that we might lose instead of what we might be able to get.

I might be able to get sanity if I would just focus on earning money instead of freaking out over the cello getting repossessed. I tell myself to just write some stuff for unnamed client that is the equivalent of a car company that didn’t test their seat belts. I could write something vague and promise myself I will never work with them again.

Well. Actually, no one else would ever work with them, so maybe they would pay me $10,000 to write something for next week. That could work. I spend a day trying to figure out how to get a client to pay me $10,000 and in between desperate attempts at overpriced pitches, Laura writes back:

Just checking!

I hate her. I cannot write back because I will be too vulnerable in the email. I do not want her to know that I am conflating my Twitter account with my son’s maybe-almost-repossessed cello. I do not want her to know that I’m crying.

I tell my son to focus on the tone of the C string. But the tone is not that bad, really. I’m mostly just bitching about the C string so I can feel like I’m being productive at something, anything.

Must do something. Must make headway with Twitter. Must do anything.

The difference between a job that’s terrible and a job that’s good isn’t the hours, it’s whether or not you feel like you’re accomplishing your goals.

I send Laura a long email. Trying to be nice and explaining how my Twitter account means a lot to me, and really, I need a different contact there. The email takes me a long time to write because kids interrupt me to ask me things like when’s lunch and where’s the charger?

I send the email and take a deep breath. I tell myself I will be okay. I took action. And after I clear up the Twitter problem I will work on the cello problem.

Then I see an auto-reply that Laura is not longer at the company.

I do not cry. I just wait until my son takes a break, so I can sit down, uninterrupted, and think of a solution. To something.

So here I am. Brahms in the background. It’s beautiful music. For someone who is not having a nervous breakdown.

Twitter? Are you listening? Hello?

Is there anyone reading this who knows someone at Twitter? Can you tell them my account has been stolen? I don’t have any more energy to keep trying.

Also, please tell Jack Dorsey that if he sends $10,000 my son will serenade him at the office.

45 replies
  1. Kyra (the military ENFP)
    Kyra (the military ENFP) says:

    I went to your account, pressed settings and reported it as hacked. I will email Twitter next.

    Everyone report the account as hacked.

    I know you don’t ever hire ENFPs, but this is totally a role where we would schmooze, charm and get your account back. I got my name changed on my credit card with zero documentation last week. I would love to help.

    Reply
  2. Rhonda
    Rhonda says:

    A German friend had her Instagram hacked. No amount of calls, nor the huge amount of friends reporting the hacked account helped at all. It was extremely frustrating for her, as she lost hundreds and hundreds of photos which she used for business purposes. She eventually created a new account with more protection (I know nothing about Instagram.), and within a few days, the new account was also hacked. The Facebook thread which contained all the info has been deleted, but I do remember someone saying that there was a Russian (of course!) group that was responsible for these stolen Instagram accounts. I fear you have a long road ahead of you, if it is anything like my friend’s situation. I’m so sorry.

    Reply
    • J.E.
      J.E. says:

      I also know someone who lost Instagram photos because her account was hacked by a Russian group. She lost the photos and had to create a new account.

      Reply
  3. Sigrid Chu
    Sigrid Chu says:

    Hello Penelope,

    I still follow you on Twitter. I did see that your account was somehow deleted but I didn’t unfollow in case you’ll come back. I didn’t see a picture of a cat though.

    Something similar happened to me yesterday. But it’s wasn’t my Twitter account. I still have that, secure for now. Not that anybody would be interested in hacking it. Not unless they’re feeling really low and want to be in possession of all my inspirational and motivational quotes.

    Yesterday, I got a grim email saying that my Pinterest account was suspended. I didn’t have a clue why. I researched it. Apparently, I could be a suspected spammer. I contacted Pinterest and declared my innocence, twice. I think they believed me because I got an email today saying that they made a mistake and that my account has been activated again. They even apologized. Of course, it was a canned message, but I appreciated the apology.

    This whole experience made me sad though. I didn’t want to rely on something that bad to the point that it’ll be a big loss for me if I lose it.

    Best,
    Sigrid

    Reply
  4. Poster
    Poster says:

    You and I are very different on the day-to-day level, but I am also an ENTJ and oh my can I see myself in this post. I entirely feel your pain and reaction to this woman at Twitter. I think you have to get super creative here to fix it (stop trying to patiently work through the Lara’s at Twitter), which is exactly what you seem to be doing with this post. I had a huge problem one time with a Dick’s Sporting Goods basketball hoop delivery and after spending like 8 hours of my life trying to go through their normal channels (and a lot of “Lara’s”) to fix… I just started looking up the executives on LinkedIn and guessed their email addresses. I wrote them a very direct and articulate email about my problem and just said “can you help me?” I had a response within 15 minutes and they put a VP on the phone with me to make sure it got fixed. I know Twitter is a different beast because they aren’t retail, but I would try something that like that.

    Reply
  5. Kirk
    Kirk says:

    Wait. Does your kid go to school or just play cello now? Does your kid want to get into Julliard, or is it you. Is it Twitter that’s bothering you or is it listening to someone play Bach on the cello all day long?

    Reply
      • Adam
        Adam says:

        I do not believe you need to explain yourself or your parenting to anyone Penelope. Your kids are lucky to have you as a supporting parent.

        Reply
      • Lisa
        Lisa says:

        Reading your piece for first time. Your son is amazing! You and his music teacher have taught him great skills to carry through in other aspects of life.

        Reply
  6. Randy
    Randy says:

    When I google twitter support, it returns https://help.twitter.com/en/safety-and-security/twitter-account-hacked select item 2 which is “Contact Support if you still require assistance”

    Submit a support request. Choose “hacked account” Include both your username and the date you last had access to your account.

    So, help.twitter.com/forms, then help.twitter.com/forms/signin.
    Asks you for your twitter username, click search (not password reset)
    Opens a simple form where you put in your current email address (or telephone number!!!) & a box to type a description of the problem. Give it your twitter username, date you last had access before the hack.

    I’ve never tried their support myself, and I know you are frustrated, but give it another go.

    Reply
  7. Juliet Cobb
    Juliet Cobb says:

    Penelope could you crowd fund the outstanding cello bill? Kickstarter perhaps? Your followers will chip in for sure.
    Love your blog,
    Juliet

    Reply
  8. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    I remember reading “Are you there God? It’s Me, Margaret” in third grade. I got it from the school library and it felt so scandalous, and I remember telling all my friends about it, and there was a whole line of third graders checking it out. Eventually some mothers complained and it got blacklisted and available only to fifth graders, after the “Family Life” classroom talk.

    I hope you get your Twitter back! Good luck!

    Reply
  9. Diane Ott
    Diane Ott says:

    I’m so sorry this happened to you, Penelope, but I love that your readers are so supportive except one who asked if you pushed your kid to want Julliard. I hope it all works out for you.

    Dee

    Reply
  10. Edna Lahey
    Edna Lahey says:

    Can someone post a GoFundMe for the cello money and place it here? I’d donate.

    I just went through the same thing at work with Yelp. They cannot do anything about negative reviews that constitute libel.

    Reply
  11. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    This happened to me a few years ago too. They have terrible support. I forget what I did to finally get it back. Interestingly, it happened after I posted an article about the Smiley Face murder conspiracy.

    Reply
  12. Cheryl
    Cheryl says:

    I went through something like this with Sprint on two separate occasions. When I couldn’t get help on the phone, I wrote letters to the highest corporate officers and cc’d the federal and state consumer departments. Got assistance immediately once they received the letters.

    Reply
  13. Patrick Tomlinon
    Patrick Tomlinon says:

    I know how you feel. I have a verified Twitter account with 38,000 followers. Two weeks ago, I woke up to find that it had been suspended permanently at 2am because of a tweet where I told someone lying about Puerto Rico’s death toll to go fuck themselves.

    One of my followers tracked it back to an Opie & Anthony reddit thread from days before where a group of obsessed trolls organized a mass false reporting attack against me personally using multiple sock puppet accounts. It was preplanned, they just needed a tweet to swarm. And twitter’s reporting algorithms fell for it.

    Since then, the same group has started impersonation accounts trying to make me appear to be a pedophile, attacked my YouTube channel, my Facebook, and my book’s Amazon ratings with fake reviews.

    I’ve appealed to Twitter twice with all of this information, and received only form letter rejections in return. I have no confidence any actual human being has actually looked at anything I’ve sent trying to explain that I was the victim of targeted harassment, and that their reporting system is being manipulated.

    I only want to talk to an actual human being at Twitter, because I believe that given the context, they would see clearly what happened. But it’s like talking to a brick wall.

    Reply
    • Olivier
      Olivier says:

      That’s by design. These large tech companies do not want to do customer support: it is very headcount-intensive, which would kill their scalability, which is the basis for their absurd valuations.

      Reply
  14. Claudette Stewart
    Claudette Stewart says:

    I am afraid for you. I’ve been following you for 5 years. You don’t seem to be in control of your life anymore. Social media is not reality, Penelope. In a very few years your boys will fly away. Where will you be without their human reality? I know espy. My husband spends every day five to seven hours at his computer and another six or seven watching television. This is his life at age 70. This poverty of spirit is all we have, and it hurts. Think about it, woman. Writing about your Twitter account is what you have come to.

    Reply
  15. Mike
    Mike says:

    Ditto on the 2 suggestions above on crowdfunding the cello. If someone sets it up and posts a link, I’m in.

    I always used to tell my kids, good equipment follows effort – meaning you don’t buy (or need) good equipment until you work really hard at getting better first, and you really benefit from the value of good equipment. Clearly, your son has put in the effort.

    Reply
  16. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I know this hack of your Twitter account is frustrating. I hope you’re able to restore/recover it in some way. I’m glad you posted about it as it may in some way prove fruitful to you. It also shows how it can and does happen to any one of us. It demonstrates to me a failing of the Twitter platform. It is free and has a lot of features but if there’s a problem, solving it can be exasperating as has been your experience. I don’t see Twitter as a reliable platform as it’s difficult to obtain support. There are other social media platforms that share this same problem of reliability/support. I’ll share this article ( https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/what-to-do-when-your-twitter-account-gets-hacked ) titled – ‘What to Do When Your Twitter Account Gets Hacked’ – that is fairly comprehensive. It has four sections – How to Know When You’ve Been Hacked, How to Not Get Hacked on Twitter, What to Do If Your Twitter Account Gets Hacked, Anyway, and If You Can No Longer Log In. The article may not be helpful for your current problem with Twitter but it does contain good information. If you do find it necessary to create a new account, please write another post to let us know so we can follow you.

    Reply
  17. me
    me says:

    Just checked Twitter (I used to be one of your 130K followers) and reported the hack.

    Pls let us know when youre finally reinstated by the Twitter Twitterati: I’ll need to re-add you to my feed. (I just put you on mute because I dont want to receive any spam from your hacker(s) …

    Reply
  18. billie
    billie says:

    this happened to joshua foust. his account was hijacked after he left twitter for harassment.

    it’s not unusual.

    take your account back by any means necessary, but for FS don’t send facebook your ID info in light of the most recent news.

    Reply
  19. Brian
    Brian says:

    Wow. I have read a few of your posts. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but think a lot of people take cello way too seriously.
    I have to ask this question. Do you even like the cello?

    I’m a gifted cellist myself, and I relate to some of what you say here. Making music gives me much pleasure. And that’s the point. There’s nothing else. I love to create beauty and to move people through the expressive communication of great music. It does not matter how “prestigious” the audience — or whether one if playing in a local church or Carnegie Hall. It is the communication with that audience that matters.

    I’m not sure that you feel that way as you seem to see cello as a mountain to climb or a competition to win. When I read what you write it is always about your son winning this or getting in with one teacher or another. You talk about the “cello community” and politics with cello teachers and the like. And a lot of parents will tell you that you need to study with this teacher or that you need to have your kid in this school or that school and on and on. But ultimately none of that matters either . . . It is how you play on the audition or in the competition that matters, and these are things for people to worry about as young adults. For little kids cello should just be fun. Truthfully, there are darn few openings for professional cellists so the odds are against you no matter whether your kid is Julliard trained or not.
    So you should just chill.

    So here is some advice for you. I mean this only to help you and your son. First, find a decent cello from a modern maker. You can get these at a reasonable price without destroying your bank account. Whether a cello costs 6000, 60000, or 600000 won’t make your kid sound any different. Great playing is great playing — the instrument does not matter.

    Second, get your life back. If you live in Chicago you can find good teachers there. If you want to go further, go to Saint Louis or Michigan because they also have excellent teachers — but obviously there is no reason to do that since Chicago is a bigger center than Saint Louis or Michigan. Your son’s talent will dictate his success on the cello.

    Third, have your kid do some normal fun activities that do not involve competing on the cello all day. Cello nerds and YouTube prodigies do not mean much outside of the tiny community of cellists who like to watch this kind of thing.

    Fourth, listen to some cello music and try to get a perspective on why you are doing all that you are doing. Try to appreciate the beauty of the sound and the sheer greatness of the instrument.

    Reply
    • Vanessa
      Vanessa says:

      Brian,
      You say that you have read a few of the posts here, but your advice shows that you have not read nearly enough of the posts because you have “the wrong end of the stick” (as the Brits say) in several ways.
      They don’t live in the midwest anymore – for the last few years they have lived on the East Coast (first it was Pennsylvania near Swarthmore College, now it’s Boston, Massachusetts).
      Her son got into some sort of Julliard program (pre- something or other) when he was 11 or 12, so his talent has already been well-conveyed, noted, and encouraged at the top tier in music education.
      Penelope has written a lot about the various school-like and non-school-like activities her kids do.
      Whether or not Penelope “likes the cello” is not very material, under the circumstances; she loves her son and she wants to encourage him to do what he loves and what he’s good at.
      I am sure she appreciates “the beauty of the instrument” and so forth.
      Advice along the lines of “just chill” does not work with Penelope. Same goes for advising her not to see something in life as “a competition to win” or “a mountain to climb”. She has written many posts about her personality (and other personality types); also many about her family history, childhood, young adulthood, first marriage, second profound romantic partnership, and other formative experiences, so you can check those out if you care to.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *