South Korea: Politician Ridiculed for Twitter Account “Explosion” Accusation

In South Korea, tentions and conflicts have intensified as the major election draws near. One politician's ridiculous comment that his Twitter account was “exploded” by the opposition to stymie his campaign has come under fire.

As Twitter confirmed on March 29, 2012, that “account explosion” – which is the exact word the politician used – is technically impossible, the politician's remark and the governing conservative party's rhetoric have drawn numerous jokes and sneers online.

Twitter “explosion”?

The phrase “Twitter account explosion” is a strange term that even many South Koreans feel unfamiliar with. Its English equivalent and a proper universal term would be “account suspension”, but the language was adopted by the ruling Saenuri partyand its member Kim Jong-hoon to define Kim's Twitter malfunction.

Twitter Blue Bird, Image created by Csaba Nagy 2009, Credit to site, Copyrights Free for Non-commercial Purposes

Twitter Blue Bird, Image created by Csaba Nagy 2009, Credit to site, Copyrights Free for Non-commercial Purposes

They claimed such an “explosion” was caused by organized terror attacks [ko] and Kim even re-tweeted some highly offensive messages calling progressive sides “pro-North Korea red commies [Communists]” [ko]. Amid growing controversy over whether a mass attack could halt and shut down one's Twitter account or not, the official Korean Twitter account (@twitter_kr) settled this matter [ko] once for all:

정상적으로 활동중인 계정에 대해 다른 사용자들이 집단 차단을 한다고 해당 계정이 정지되지는 않습니다. 먼저 공격적인 팔로잉을 하는 과정에서 많은 사용자들이 차단하거나, 자신을 팔로우하지 않는 사용자들에게 반복 글을 보내는 경우가 대표 정지 원인입니다.

When the account is doing regular activities, it will not be suspended by mass blocks from other Twitter users. The main cause of suspension is when a user does ‘aggressive following’ which results in getting blocks from many other users or when one tweets repetitive messages to other users who do not follow him.

Susie Lee‏ (@susielee) who works in Twitter main office added [ko]:

트위터 계정폭파란게 존재한다면 안티에 시달리는 연예인들 계정은 항상 폭파될것입니다. 누군가를 집중 스팸신고한다고 계정이 정지되진않습니다. 먼저 규정을 위반해 정지된후 피해자임을 주장하는 분들께 속지마시길 바랍니다.

If there is ever such a thing called ‘Twitter account explosion’, the accounts of celebrities with numerous anti-fans would always explode, which means just repetitively reporting someone's account as spam cannot suspend the account. Don't be fooled by someone pretending to be a victim but who in fact got suspended for violating our regulations.

Influential tech blogger, Barry Lee, posted an analysis on this fiasco [ko] referencing the official Twitter help center's warnings on aggressive following:

If some accounts are aggressively or indiscriminately following hundreds of accounts just to garner attention […] when an account repeatedly follows and un-follows large numbers of users, this may be done to get lots of people to notice them, to circumvent a Twitter limit, or to change their follower-to-following ratio.[…] These behaviors negatively impact the Twitter experience for other users, are common spam tactics, and may lead to account suspension.

Lee added that the Saenuri party has adopted a new evaluation system on candidate's social networking abilities, which measures their networking by the number of Twitter followers.

For South Korean net users who have seen enough of these repetitive accusations, which blame anything unsolved and dubious on North Korea or pro-North Korean elements, it just provided another thing to ridicule and lampoon on Twitter and blogsphere.

A comment by 푸른하늘 은하수님(BlueSkyMilkyWay) posted right below a related news article summarized the fiasco [ko] in just a single sentence:

결국 트위터로 멘션 마구 뿌리다가 차단당했다는 거네..?

So… he was blocked by users after rampantly mentioning peoples’ names in his tweets?

Twitter user @mettayoon tweeted [ko]:

김종훈의 트위터 계정이 종북좌파들에 의한 계정 폭파라고 분개했던 새누리당, 알고보니 무리하게 맞팔 늘리려다 계정폭파. 자폭도 참 다양하게 해요. 심심하지가 않다니까.

The Saenuri party was enraged after claiming that Kim's Twitter account explosion was done by pro-North Korean leftists. But it is proven to be an account suspension caused by aggressive attempts to increase its number of followers. What a refreshing [career] suicide action! Will they ever give us time to get bored?

Influential Twitterer, Baek Chan-hong (@mindgood) tweeted [ko]:

김종훈의 종북세력에 의한 계정폭파 주장은 트윗 본사가 규정위반에 의한 계정정지라고 밝힘에 따라 김종훈측은 맛팔용 마구잡이 팔로잉을 시도하다 스팸처리된 셈. 결과적으로 무지한 자들이 색깔론으로 판을 흔들려다 국제적 망신을 당한 것.

Kim Jong-hoon asserted that some pro-North Korean sides have ‘exploded’ his account. But according to Twitter main office, it was an account suspension due to violation of user guidelines. What actually happened is that after he aggressively followed people to increase his follower numbers, his account was treated as spam. It is an international embarrassment for those ignorant people who unsuccessfully tried to bring the ideology/political angles into play [this refers to the fact that the party jumped to the conclusion that it was done by pro-Communists].

There is a Korean site ‘TWT119‘, which claims to save older tweets prior to account suspension and provide a backup service. TWT119 submitted an open letter to Twitter office asking to investigate further this case. However, blogger Berry Lee revealed [ko] what this site does is to merely translate users’ complaints from Korean to English language. He added that users don't need this separate service since the official Twitter would have their own servers storing tweets.

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