The Twitterverse came to a stop for a few hours today as a “bug” allowed users to be forced to follow other users without their consent. As Twitter worked to resolve the problem follower and following counts were reset to zero. The loud noise that you heard this morning was the collective scream of thousands of people whose existence and sense of being revolves around that “followers” count. Where did all my tweeps go?
It is easy to make jokes when something like this happens. The reality of our social networking world is that there are a lot of people out there whose financial existence revolves around services like Twitter. I’ve spent many hours building my Twitter account. If all that just vanished the implications would be huge. Think of the money invested by business to build an audience on Twitter or Facebook. The reality is that all this could be gone in a matter of seconds and is beyond our control. We are 100% reliant on Facebook and Twitter to protect our identity.
What would you do if your digital life was suddenly erased and you had to start from scratch? Would you do anything different than you do today? Do you have a backup of your online world? Would you even know where to start? I think today should be a wake-up call for all of us who have so much time and effort invested in our virtual profiles.
I love social networking and all of the benefits that it brings. The chance to learn about things that you would never have the opportunity to discover is the biggest benefit for me. If you are a business, the stakes are much higher. What are you going to do today? I backup my tweets using a service called backupmytweets.com. That at least gives me some history to start with. Do you save the information that you post to Facebook? I implore you to take a step back and think about the “what if” scenario just as we all do with our own computer data. Just because we don’t host it, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take some responsibility.