Blue Checkmark Blues

Oh, Twitter. You’re so funny.

Remember the Twitter impersonator incident from 2014? Since then, every once in a while, I report harassment or impersonation of me on Twitter just to see what will happen. (Yes, there are impersonators. Which somewhat mystifies me, but at least one of them is a stalker, so…yeah. Anyway.) When I report harassment, exactly nothing beyond a form reply rejecting my complaint happens.

When reporting impersonation, however, the form letter comes with a demand for something very specific: a readable picture of my driver’s license or passport.

Twitter’s insistence on this particular piece of information–state-issued photo ID–is perplexing in more ways than one. Ever since 2014, they’ve been asking me for it. I write back explaining why I won’t be sending one, and giving links to my website, my official FB, my verified Amazon Author pages, my Goodreads page, all clearly sporting links to my Twitter account. Since I wouldn’t turn over a scan or fax of my sensitive personal information because their implied handling of such data in 2014 was questionable at best and they have not actively sought to regain my trust since, they issue a form rejection of my complaint, and when I respond to the form rejection with another explanation, I get back a form letter saying the support case is closed and further replies will be sent to to an unmonitored address.

Charming, isn’t it?

Now, when they opened up verification a little while ago, I figured I’d try it out, just to see if the horrendous parts of the process had been fixed. I figured I’d play at least part of the game, however, and sent in the links to my website, my Amazon Author pages, my Goodreads author page and Facebook fan page–you get the idea–all with clear links to my Twitter profile, and, bonus, a scan of my driver’s license with the number, my birthdate, and my address blacked out. I held out no great hope.

Well, on August 8th I received a form letter rejection, and when I wrote back asking how my profile/bio didn’t meet the requirements for verification, the email bounced. It wasn’t quite as classy as the unmonitored email address ploy, but perhaps they were losing patience with my gadfly self.

Imagine my surprise when, after a very clear rejection, this landed in my inbox earlier today:

FROM: Twitter Support
TO: contact@lilithsaintcrow.com
Case#*REDACTED* RE: Verification Request for @lilithsaintcrow

.
Hello,

We received your request to verify @lilithsaintcrow.

We need to confirm the identity of the account owner in order to further investigate this request. Please provide a copy of their valid photo ID (e.g. driver’s license or passport) within 48 hours of receiving this email.

If the legal name does not match the stage/artist name, please include a letter from the management company stating the following:

The legal name stated on the official identification provided is the authorized account holder of @lilithsaintcrow.
Please scan and upload the required documentation using the following link:
*LINK REDACTED*

We must be able to see the full name and photo, so please try to send a legible copy. This information will be kept confidential, and will be deleted once we have used it to confirm their identity.

Reply to this email to let us know once you’ve uploaded the documentation. We appreciate your patience and cooperation in this matter.

Thanks,

Twitter Support

Reference *REDACTED*
Help
Twitter, Inc. 1355 Market Street, Suite 900 San Francisco, CA 94103

I’ve redacted the link, case number, and reference number above for obvious reasons.

So, just to get this straight, they rejected my verification request outright, bounced my request for further explanation, and are STILL, after all this, determined to get their hands on my driver’s license. They do say the information will be kept confidential, yet how can I trust their policies won’t be changed in the future? “Will be deleted” once you’ve used it to confirm? Why not just spend the two seconds to google me or for God’s sake, READ THE REPLIES AND THE APPLICATION I SENT YOU? Wouldn’t that be easier than me sending personal, sensitive information to a company that exists to sell user’s eyeballs to the highest bidder?

I mean, yes, Twitter is convenient as all get-out and it’s really great for interacting with fans, and it’s ubiquitous right now, but let’s not think this service is offered out of the goodness of any Silicon Valley bro’s heart, okay?

However, being just enough of a contrarian, and being just irritated enough, to try again for the purposes of blogging about the whole damn thing, I sent a reply. Here it is:

Dear Sir/Madam,

As I have told Twitter multiple times, this is unnecessary and somewhat insulting, especially after I was impersonated on Twitter in back in 2014. (I wrote about it here: Then, I was told that harassers and impersonators could gain access to whatever information I gave Twitter. Your assurance that the data will be deleted is not sufficient for me to risk my safety or the safety of my family.

I am a New York Times Bestselling author. Here are (a few of the many) places where my official Twitter account is referenced and linked to:

My website: http://www.lilithsaintcrow.com

My Facebook and Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/lilithsaintcrow https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lilith-Saintcrow/172118402032

My Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/131208.Lilith_Saintcrow

My Amazon Author Pages: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BLOSOU http://www.amazon.com/Lili-St.-Crow/e/B002TN3418/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

However, I am fully expecting to receive another form letter rejecting me for verification, like the one I received a few weeks ago (on August 8, to be precise) when I initially requested verification. I have no idea why you are asking for sensitive personal information again after initially rejecting me and ignoring my request for further information about said rejection.

Best,

Lilith Saintcrow

I added the NYT Bestselling thing because my agent tells me it shows I’m Serious.

Now, why am I bothering, especially since I might not even take verification when offered? Because this has irritated the bejesus out of me. Twitter is a complete and utter mess when it comes to dealing with harassment, despite Randi Lee Harper’s clear, cheap, and effective fixes, which she’s offered for free. Also, their insistence on getting hold of critical personal information about me is thought-provoking, to say the least. Why are they so set on gaining this information? What happens to it when their policies change?

Someone remarked to me that the company Just Doesn’t Get It, “it” being harassment. I don’t think that’s strictly true. I think they get it, but it’s not profitable to care. So, Twitter doesn’t.

*gets out the popcorn* I’ll probably get another form letter in response.

I can hardly wait.

ETA: Well, I didn’t have to wait long. Another form email, exactly the same as the one above, landed in my inbox at 5:23pm. *gets more popcorn*

ETA 8/25/16: I just received this email back from Twitter Support.

FROM: Twitter Support
TO: contact@lilithsaintcrow.com
Case#*REDACTED* RE: Verification Request for @lilithsaintcrow

Hi,

Thanks for the followup email. Unfortunately, we are unable to verify you if you are unable to provide the required documentation. Thank you for understanding.

Thanks,

Twitter Support

http://support.twitter.com
@Support

Reference *REDACTED*

WELL. THERE IT IS THEN. *melts more butter* *screeches with laughter* I wrote back. Of course I did.

Dear Sir/Madam,

So, you mean to say that despite my concerns about stalking, harassment, and impersonation, and despite the fact that you can verify that @lilithsaintcrow is my official Twitter account by a few moments spent on my website, my verified Amazon Author page, and my official Facebook, despite the fact that this email address is clearly my official one, you cannot “verify” me unless I hand over sensitive personal data I cannot trust you to guard responsibly due to your track record? This is what you’re saying. If there’s another explanation, please, enlighten me.

Best,

Lilith Saintcrow

I see two options here. Either Twitter wants my driver’s license information because they plan to monetize it in some fashion later down the line, OR they don’t have the staff to run verification properly, which means they don’t have enough staff to handle the data properly. What happens when they’re hacked? They say they delete the information just after they use it, but really? Once it’s on their servers, I’m just supposed to trust them? Especially when they were very clear back in 2014 that they reserved the right to share a scan of my driver’s license with someone I had reason to believe was a stalker who had already threatened me? Neither of these options induce me to a great deal of confidence.

So. No blue ticky-check for me. I’m not even sure I’d take it, were they to suddenly pay attention and offer one. Marginalized folks, and people at risk of harassment, or people who are ALREADY being harassed, are not served well by this, and I would caution them to reconsider verification. Either it’s a data grab, or they don’t have the staff to keep that sensitive data safe. I don’t want to risk it, I won’t give out information that can possibly impact the safety of my family, and I really, really urge everyone considering verification to think about this.

‘Nuff said.

A Full Weekend

Markedcover2

I’ve added new perks to the Indiegogo campaign for The Marked. If you have an idea for a perk, do let me know.

This past weekend, the Princess graduated from high school. (Good Lord, I feel old.) Yes, I cried. That seems the only appropriate response when you’ve successfully managed to get a tiny dependent being through the eighteen years of childhood and early adolescence. The ceremony to mark such a thing, while boring, is still important because it’s a ritual, drawing a nice bright line between the phase of “public school” and the entry into young adulthood. I rarely have the patience for communal rituals, but I recognize their import.

My baby, growing up. *sniffles a bit*

She’s handling the transition better than I am. You get into the habit of feeding, caring, listening for their breathing, constantly blocking traffic for them, guiding, watching, loving them so hard your very bones ache when they’re in any kind of pain. It leaves an imprint. Learning to let go, bit by bit, as they grow, is hard. You wake up one day, and they’re doing things like BEING ALL GROWN-UP. And the feelings get so big they leak out of your nose and eyes and mouth.

The other thing I did this weekend was run a writing workshop for teens. It was interesting. I have often thought of running online writing workshops, and it was fun to do sort of a dry run and see what kinds of questions people ask, how a workshop is structured, and how to keep an audience interested. I think it went rather well.

Still, all the emotion, and the public speaking, left me drained down to a bare shadow of myself. I suspect I’ll need another day or so to recover, then it’s on to Cormorant Run revisions. I planned to start them at the beginning of the month, but the zombie apocalypse story grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I think I was using the zombies to decompress, or just plain to escape.

…yeah, my wiring is weird. But then, if you’re reading this, you quite probably knew that already. I’m retreating, also, because the news is so terrible, and I am old enough to realize it’s very likely nothing will be done. People simply love their fear and their hatred too much to change; it terrifies me that my children will be going into such a world.

So I’m off to refill my creative well, and to go back into a world I built a while ago. If there’s hope, it lies in creating. Or at least, so I tell myself. It’s all I have to fight the fear.

Over and out.

Inefficiency Bothers Me

sixstringsamuraiicon You don’t change the location of a potluck two hours before the damn thing starts, especially on a work day. Apparently, though, one of the American teachers involved in the exchange program thought that was an appropriate thing to do. This is the same teacher that’s consistently twenty minutes late to every event, and whose indifferent organizing meant that at least three times several of the students were unable to contact their host parents when pickup times changed. *eyeroll* The inefficiency bothers me.

As I’m sure you can tell.

Most of all, though, I’m embarrassed by her. We’re supposed to be putting our best foot forward for the exchange program.

ANYWAY. All of this meant that instead of being able to attend two events for two different sets of kids, I could attend neither because I was busy driving everyone to where they needed to be. In any case, it’s over now, and I am hoping I don’t ever have to deal with this particular teacher ever again.

Revisions on She Wolf and Cub proceed apace. I’m doing a pass for formatting and basic things, since all my italics seem to have been stripped out. (You know how much I love my italics.) When that’s done, I’ll make another pass for details. The setting is so very clear in my head, but that needs to hit the page as well. If there ever was a book where I need to luxuriate in the background, it’s this one. The stacks of towering stone, the endlessness of the sand, the silver and indigo of the dunes at night, they all need to be brought forward.

So that’s my day. After, of course, I get out the door for my long run to sweat out the irritation from yesterday. I can even taste it, thin metal at the very back of my tongue. I never thought, when I started running, that it would be a mood regulator. Just one more benefit, I suppose, along with tiring out Miss B and working plot tangles loose.

Over and out.

On Steelflower, Redux

steelflower I get mail. Recently it was a scolding message sent to me through Patreon. This particular patron was only interested in Steelflower 2, and since that book is dead on the vine they wanted to cancel their pledge. Fair enough, except I can’t alter a patron’s pledges. That’s kind of the whole point of Patreon, but a second and a half spent with Google turned up some helpful information. (WHO KNEW?)

ANYWAY, the “scolding” bit was that I was “punishing” my readers for the “actions of one asshole.” I think I should post my entire reply here.

Dear *redacted*,

I received your message and wrote you one in return yesterday. Since it seems that didn’t go through, let’s try again!

I do not have the ability to alter my patrons’ pledges in any way, shape, or form. A quick Google, however, found this:

Link to Patreon FAQ on deleting pledges

One of the things I remember from your message yesterday was that you felt I was “punishing” readers for the actions of one person. I do not see it quite that way. In face, I would contend that, having suffered the loss of a significant amount of paid working time to write the 70K words I did get done on the sequel, and then feeling utterly violated when that one person (yes, I know who it was) uploaded Patreon bits to a torrent site, is a punishment far greater than any my readers may suffer. The subsequent financial “hit” and the fact that I cannot even open up the Steelflower 2 file on my word processor without feeling violently ill definitely qualify as punishments. It seems to me that however much readers may miss the exploits of Kaia and her crew, I miss them more. They are parts of me that have been completely, well, violated. I keep using that word because it is the one that applies.

Fortunately, readers who pledged through Patreon saw considerable chunks of that book, and they were the only people in the world (other than the e-pirates) who saw them. Even my agent didn’t get to read those.

Thank you very much for your communication. I hope this clarifies my stance on the entire sad matter.

Best,

Lilith Saintcrow

There is yet another twist to the Steelflower story–Samhain Publishing, the press that was kind enough to take a chance on the first book, had contracted for the second. Unfortunately, they are in they process of shutting their doors and have released me from the Steelflower 2 contract. So I am back where I was before I thought I could write the last two books of Kaia’s series–no publisher, and people taking time out of their busy lives to yell at me over things I have no control over. Only this time, there’s a significant financial hit from the loss of paid working time and BONUS e-piracy!

In short, I am right about here:

give_a_damn_icon

It will take a while for the rights to the first Kaia book to revert to me. When they do, I am having longing thoughts of just letting the book go quietly out of print. At least then, when people yell at me over the whole thing, I can just tip the e-mails into the “Entitled Prats” bin in my inbox and let them vanish forever into the screaming electronic wastes.

I’m done.

Over and out.

Furious Vexation

Yesterday was…not optimal. One furious vexation followed another, and by the end of the day I was just about ready to scream. To add to it, my fingers were stuttering all day, which made for two intensely frustrating piano sessions. The transcription was full of random noise–recording in a pub is NOT optimal, for God’s sake–and the dogs were both acting up because of the Change and New People and OMG THINGS CHANGED over the weekend. (Odd Trundles is still barking at random balloons and searching for bits of dropped party food.) Miss B’s bad behavior was fairly mild, but Odd was in fine form, between not wanting breakfast and the consequent risk of vomiting seizures (yes, this is a thing for him) and constant startles all. damn. day.

“Don’t worry, Mum,” both kids said at bedtime. “Tomorrow will be better.” Which is exactly what I used to say to them, when they had Terrible Horrible No-Good Very-Bad days. Already, I suppose today is looking up, because I haven’t hit my head on anything and I’m not planning on doing any transcription. Don’t get me wrong, I like transcription work, but yesterday’s piece was intensely aggravating.

Recovery from the Weekend of March Birthdays Party proceeds apace. We might even get some of the decorations down today. (Aim high, Lili. Aim high.) I suppose I can’t call the Princess and the Little Prince “children” anymore, and the Little Prince is not so little. The river just keeps going. (Thanks, Heraclitus.)

…yeah, I don’t think I’m quite recovered. A fairly intense run is in order to sweat out all the stress chemicals, then there’s wordcount to be achieved. Odd has eaten his breakfast and retired to my bed, where he will sleep off all the NEWFRIENDS NEWTHINGS BARK *snortwhistle*. (Hopefully.) And maybe Bandit (the cavy, for those of you just joining us) will stop bitching at me about how he was lonely when I wasn’t in the office all weekend.

Of course, I have a backlog of email, I don’t think I’m going to get the CEs in on time, and a couple electronic devices are still randomly fuzzing out. That las is how I can tell I’m still on the whipsaw-edge of irritated, frustrated exhaustion.

Definitely gonna kill some characters today.

Over and out.

Reasonably Awesome

ghandi01 This morning, the Princess brought me coffee in bed. “I was just up,” she said when I thanked her, “and I thought, how can I do something nice for Mum?”

She sat at the breakfast table with me, just because she wanted to talk. Right now she’s into Steven Universe. “You’d like it,” she says, and tells me about an episode where Pearl wants to show Steven that physical strength isn’t everything, that there’s a different strength in the people who do daily scut work to keep households and nations active. I agree that it sounds nice, and as I finish my porridge, we talk about being a reasonably awesome human being.

The goal is, of course, to be awesome on a daily basis. But not the jackass frat boy sense. Reasonably awesome.

How, do you ask, can someone be reasonably awesome? Here follows a short list.

* Admit your fucking privilege. I’ve benefited from many forms of privilege in my life, and suffered a few forms of discrimination as well. Discrimination against me in one area (I’m female on the internet) does not give me leeway to be an asshole over my privilege in another (my skin tone means I’m less likely to be shot wearing a hoodie on my morning run). It doesn’t hurt to admit that, especially when listening to other peoples’ experiences.

* Admit your fuckups. Want to know one thing I never, ever heard from parental figures while I was growing up?

“I’m sorry. I was wrong.”

Many are the assholes who think admitting they were mistaken or just plain wrong somehow robs them of something. I say those five words daily, and have ever since I became a mother. It can range from “you know, I was wrong when I put you in time-out for that, I should have been more patient,” to “Remember when I explained Celsius and Fahrenheit to you? I had the conversion wrong, sorry,” or “You guys tasked me with putting together email for the site and I did it wrong. I’m fixing it now.” Getting in the habit of acknowledging your mistakes makes you a better human being. You fix it (or do your best to) and move on.

* Consider shutting up sometimes. In the immortal words of Elon James, when you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about, you could just say nothing. I think Mark Twain observed it’s better to be silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt, sometimes. If a rancid bit of asshattery is about to escape your mouth, or you know you’re already irritated and frustrated, take the opportunity to just keep your lips buttoned for a few minutes and think about keeping it zipped until you have something reasonable to say.

* But not when someone is an asshat in your presence. From the jock father who was letting his sons roughhouse in the baking aisle (right next to glass containers of every kind of oil known to cooking) who said “Don’t yell at my kids!” when I told said spawn to cut it out (“Parent them and I won’t have to,” I snapped in return) to the woman calling another woman in a hijab nasty names in the produce aisle (“Just shut up, she’s not making YOU wear a scarf,” I said, hefting an apple and visibly considering bouncing it off her fool skull), I try not to let people get away unscathed from asshattery. Of course, this is a rule best applied with a little forethought. But if you see something, say something. Even something as simple as “I’m sorry that person is being an asshole,” can change the entire situation. Especially if you have a bit of privilege, you can often perform a bit of interpersonal judo to even things out. And yes, in volatile situations you might get yelled at. Most people will do just about anything to avoid being perceived as the asshole in any particular situation, and calling them on it is a powerful tool evoking powerful responses.

* Stay done. Remember the SquirrelTerror plagiarism incident? Something I said then has stuck with me since: when I say I’m done, it doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven or forgotten, or have accepted anything at all. It simply means I am not wasting any more energy on that asshole. If someone isn’t arguing in good faith, if someone is an inveterate racist and they don’t want to be anything else, if someone is toxic and doesn’t give a fuck for other people, fine, they can do all that somewhere else. I don’t have to lend myself to it, and I do not have to keep throwing good effort after bad. Staying done means just that: don’t respond afterward. Refusing to deal with someone is a powerful tool, too.

* Share the limelight. Success for other people means more success for me, too, and nowhere is that more true (and more ignored) than in publishing. I do not lose anything by drawing attention to something awesome someone else is doing. Rather, I benefit from more awesome in the world. Find ways to spread the word about cool stuff instead of banging your own gong all the time. It’s far more satisfying.

* Take a notebook with you. Remember that scene in Hot Fuzz where Simon Pegg is simply making notes in his little journal? Nothing calms a situation down–or makes people behave–like you writing down everything they say. You don’t even have to be expecting trouble; I take a notebook to every meeting, and at the beginning write down the date and time. Just in case. Also, when you hear a particularly good bit of dialogue you want to write down for a story, nothing beats having pen and paper to hand.

* Don’t just be quiet. Think. Listening is an active state. Pay attention, whether it’s a dog whining to tell you it’s time for a bathroom break to the LGBT activist on Twitter detailing insidious behavior you’ve never thought about before. Sometimes, it’s not enough just to shut the fuck up, you have to exercise the meat between your ears as well.

* Be kind. Even the most reasonable person has certain days where their Wheaties have been pissed in. Even the nicest kid has a hormone rush or a meltdown every now and again. Even the most socially conscious blogger has a rough morning. I’m not saying to excuse intolerant fuckwaddery here. I am saying, you can be a kind person and still not allow fuckwaddery in your presence.

* Listen to reason. Friends are good. Invest in your friends, once they have earned your trust. And when a friend you trust says, “You are being an asshole,” listen. (Do you know how many times the Selkie has saved me from being an asshole? A WHOLE LOT.) There is nothing so precious as the person who loves you and will call you on your bullshit. Don’t ever minimize, overlook, or ignore that.

* Admit your own fuckwaddery. You know, this is really another way of saying “admit your fuckups,” but what the hell, I think it bears repeating. I’ve been too harsh on people. I’ve been dismissive. I’ve been critical, unpleasant, high-handed, and sometimes even just plain selfish. Admitting it is the first step to apologizing and making amends where one can. Where one cannot, admission is the first step to regret, and all the above leads to the whole point: doing better next time.

One of the highest bits of praise in my particular lexicon is “X is a reasonable human being.” It can mean they’re kind, or truthful, or that they admit when they’ve made a mistake, or they’re willing to listen to reason. Often, it means the person has shown they are all of the above, and more. So when I say, “be reasonably awesome,” you now understand what that means.

I know this isn’t an exhaustive list. (And really, this is like the Pirate Code.) So, my darling chickadees, it’s your turn. Fill up the comments with more Guidelines For Being Reasonably Awesome. Given what day it is, I think it’s a fine idea.

Shifting Gears

what i do So when you sit down to write a particular story, and it makes you physically ill, and you keep trying, how long do you go before you decide the sheer misery isn’t worth it?

I’m not asking for a friend.

It appears my particular answer is “about a month, all told.” About a month of dreading working each day, sitting down, struggling to type a few more words, and my stomach suddenly feeling as if a blowtorch had been turned on inside it. I am unsure whether I have grown more stubborn or less, because I’m not used to stopping a book because it physically pains me. I’m used to just powering through, as I do in so many parts of my life, disregarding any damage because I’ve promised, or it’s necessary, or I’m just too goddamn intractable to know when to quit. I appear to have finally reached my limit with this particular book.

To be fair, this book has been years in gestating, and has had a tortuous path at best. I’m just…finally…done, I think. No matter how much I want to finish it, it’s not worth the cost. I can’t afford to lose this sort of working time on something that makes me stagger into the loo and retch from sheer pain.

A factor in me deciding to stop hurting myself was an editor I trust saying to me, “What would you write if you didn’t have to write anything? That will be our next thing, because you work best when I let you just run.” Which led me to start working on the thing I really was looking forward to, and wouldn’t you know, I had forgotten what it felt like to be excited to sit down and work. I’d forgotten when it felt like to not have my stomach lit on fire and crawling out through my mouth while I typed.

I have found (shockingly, I know) that I rather prefer not feeling that way. I suppose I’ll have to chalk this up to “lesson learned.” It’s been an extremely expensive lesson all the way around.

In a month or so I will make a final decision about that poor book. It may be that I just need some time away. I’m hoping that’s the case. In the meantime, I’m going to work on things that don’t make me physically ill.

And that, as one says, is that.