21-May-2013 NEWS FLASH: (Full story.)
Twitter named the 7th most frustrating company in America by the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Imagine this…

You have been using Twitter since 2008, and out of the blue, you get an eMails from Twitter saying that you had broken some rule and your Twitter account has been frozen and your Twitter handle has been give to someone else.

That is exactly what happened to me. On behalf of all Twitter users, I am fighting back.

I am undertaking this battle not just for myself, but far more for the principle of the matter. There are millions of Twitter users who invest tens of millions of hours for both personal and business reasons. If Twitter can arbitrarily take away their handle at will, with no recourse or explanation, then these users are entitled to know that their investment of time and money are at risk at any time.

From a legal, moral, and ethical point of view, Twitter is acting like an arrogant bully. On this website, I will fully document the saga between Twitter and myself. If you agree that Twitters behavior is unfair, unjust, immoral, unethical, and simply bad karma, then help me spread the word by forwarding this URL to your friends and colleagues who you think will be interested.

I have been contacted by various legal bloggers, and am hoping that one of them will write a more informed post as to the legal issues. Please eMail me links to any articles and I will post them here.

From a moral and ethical point of view, it is unimaginable that without any warning or consultation, my Twitter name of 5 years was taken from me. As you will clearly see, I have been reasonably and appropriately trying to get Twitter to explain the reasoning behind their actions. Other than saying I was "engaged in non-parody impersonation" they offer no insight. I doubt anyone who takes the time to read my tweets or spend any amount of time exploring the matter would classify anything I have done as impersonation. I tried again and again to establish a dialogue with Twitter to discuss the matter, and to my total dismay, each and every request has been completely ignored.

All Twitter users, especially those who have "brand equity" in their Twitter name, need to understand that they are at the risk of an arrogant company who without warning might choose to take away your handle and assign it to someone else.

  • I understand that Twitter has the right to set its own Terms of Use.
  • But all of us are entitled to expect Twitter to follow its own rules!
  • Who determines if Twitter is following its own rules?
  • Why doesn't Twitter provide a reasonable venue for arbitration and complaint ?
  • Without such venue, a user has no other recourse but to file suit.

My story...

Hello, my name is Lenny Barshack and I live in Sun Valley, Idaho. In 2008 I registered the twitter handle @SunValley. I enjoyed the use of @SunValley until 10-Oct-2012 when Twitter sent me an eMail informing me that @SunValley was being transferred to someone else.

This website documents the ongoing saga of my battle to have @SunValley returned to me. This conflict, and the issues raised, affect every internet user, including you!

My saga is well documented. I doubt there will be any dispute about the FACTS of the case. I openly publish every relevant document on this website.

There were two eMail threads between Twitter and myself. They can be viewed in their entirety at eMails and more eMails. Read them from bottom up.

You can also view every tweet I made from @SunValley.

A week later, still not certain as to why @SunValley was stolen from me, and still unable to establish a dialogue with Twitter, I sent the following 17 page document to Twitter. I was hopeful that once someone at Twitter saw the effort I had put into the issue they would have the courtesy, the decency, or at least the business sense to contact me. They didn't.

Waiting and waiting, I thought perhaps I got lost in the holiday season, so I resent the 17 pages again on 22-Jan-2013. I got no reply at all.

Given no reply and no alternative recourse, I filed a formal lawsuit on 6-May-2013. Call me naive, but I was hopeful that Twitter would finally be motivated to establish a dialogue with me. To my bewilderment they indicated they prefer to litigate rather than have a simple dialogue and explain their decision. At this point, when it is clear to Twitter that I am determined to fight their arrogance, it is unimaginable to me that Twitter has no interest in trying to explain their actions. Instead Twitter wishes to engage in an expensive legal battle where they will ultimately need to justify their actions anyway. REALLY!!

It is important to point out, that up to this point, I have not been seeking money damages or compensation of any kind other than an explanation or apology, and to have @SunValley returned to me.

This is an issue of importance far beyond my tiny lawsuit of principle. Will we allow Internet giants to establish rules and guidelines encourage millions of users to participate on that basis, and then have them unilaterally fail to adhere to their own rules and fail to offer an explanation? Ultimately, we will need a new body of law to control these powerful companies and oblige them to act within the constraints of the law. In the short term, it will be up to us, the general public to bring it to the attention of as many users as possible to force “good behavior”.

I am fully prepared to see this conflict through and hope to bring Twitter's behavior into the spotlight.

I welcome anyone to comment on this conflict, regardless of which side you are on.

I encourage you to help spread the word about this very important issue.

I understand my personal battle is not the most important issue of our time, but the larger issues are important and far reaching. It is about fair use of the Internet and social media applications for all of us. It is about forcing social media giants to play fair and live by their own published rules.

Lenny Barshack
Follow the saga on twitter: @IWasSunValley