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.

Squirl Overheat

[SCENE: Ninety-plus degrees outside, but relatively cool inside. At the dinner table, chez Saintcrow. Behind the Little Prince is the French door to the deck. Our view out said French door is captured above.]

Me: [checks to make sure I’m wearing shoes] What the…
Princess: Uh…is that normal?
Little Prince: What? [turns around in chair] Oh, wow. Is it dead?
Princess: I don’t know.
Me: I can’t see if it’s breathing.
Princess: So, um, we’re just going to eat dinner with that right there?
Me: God protect us.
Miss B: [under the table] What? Food for the dog?
Odd Trundles: [sitting on our side of the French door, blissfully oblivious] Food for the dog? Food?

[Overheated Squirrel twitches.]

Me: JESUS CHRIST.
Little Prince: [dropping fork] WHAT?
Princess: It moved! It moved!
Dogs: FOOD? FOOD FOR THE DOGS?
Me: Everyone just stay calm. Are we all wearing shoes?
Princess: Mom, it’s outside.
Me: THAT MEANS NOTHING.

The squirrel was alive. After a little while, as if it could hear us, it leapt to its feet and regarded us, sideways-baleful in that way only prey animals can manage. The kids were delighted. I was definitely NOT. Why, you ask?

Because I had to take the dogs out after dinner. And chances were, the squirrel was going to be there.

Waiting.

TO BE CONTINUED…

A Long Weekend

sixstringsamuraiicon It’s Friday again. I would have a Friday photo for you, but things are a little topsy-turvy here right at the moment. I am having to carry a fifty-pound dog down the stairs for loo breaks. It’s a grand workout, and this is the dog with sense enough to stay still during the entire operation, but still.

What happened? Well, yesterday I had to answer the door.

Perhaps I should explain.

Neither dog can be trusted when I have to do so, but Odd Trundles can’t make it down the inside stairs. (This gives the cats someplace to go to escape his exuberance. If he ever finds out they’re perfectly navigable there will be FURRY HELL TO PAY OMG.) So the thing to do has become to put both dogs in my bedroom, which smells like me (and like them, let’s be honest, because that T-shirt that says “Sleeps With Dogs”? That’s me.) and does not hold anything that can harm them.

Unfortunately, Miss B was Very Excited at the prospect of SOMEONE AT THE DOOR. She dealt with this excitement by throwing herself at the bedroom door.

What I think happened next was that Odd, who had been napping on my bed (look, just don’t ask) got excited by all Miss B’s excitement, and made a beeline at whatever she was trying to get at. He relies on her to tell him what to do almost every minute of the day, including when to breathe and where to pee.

SO. I think Miss B landed on Odd. As a cushion, he leaves a little to be desired. He’s built like a brick shithouse, really, and not much can damage him, but brick shithouses are not pillows.

I closed the front door and heard a yelp. It activated the Mother Circuit in my head–you know, the one that flips when you realize your child has been Too Quiet For Too Long, or when you hear an “I’m hurt” noise, which is totally different than “I’m having a meltdown over not riding in the grocery cart” or “I am too tired for this shit” or even “MOM HE’S BREATHING ON ME!” noises. I all but teleported up the stairs, and the first Wrong Thing I encountered was Odd Trundles on the other side of my bedroom door, wiggling and pleased with himself but very baffled, since he is rarely allowed to be the first to greet me.

Miss B was holding one of her back paws up, and looking at me with a similar baffled expression. Then she put it down, picked it back up, and hopped three-legged towards me.

“Oh, fuck,” I said.

As far as I can tell nothing is broken. She is putting some weight on the leg and the bones are all in the right place; the entire leg moves as a whole with no floppiness and she has regular range of motion in all the joints. Her paw is a bit swollen but she lets me palpate each toe, so I think there’s nothing broken in there, she just landed wrong and sprained something. If she’s still limping tomorrow, it will be time for a vet visit I probably won’t be able to afford right now.

But today, I am carrying her up and down the stairs out back when she needs to pee. There will be no running for her, for the foreseeable future. Which is just going to be all sorts of fun if she can’t work off her nerves. And Odd Trundles, trying to be helpful, is chewing up the coir mat at the entrance of my office, because he has no clue what to do when Miss B isn’t bossing him, and this is the best he can come up with.

I said it yesterday, and I’ll say it again.

It’s gonna be a loooooong weekend.

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.

Ground Control Is Silent Now

Want to know something awful and funny at the same time? Yesterday, thinking about writing Monday’s blog post, I was going to title it “Ch-ch-ch-changes.”

I woke up to find out David Bowie has died. I’d like to claim it as a psychic tickle, but the truth is, Bowie has so saturated so many creative worlds, of course I would think of him for a post title.

He’s gone back to his home planet, I suppose, one of the stars we gaze at when the night is bleakest and blackest. Our very own Earendil.

We were lucky to have him for as long as we did.

Boo and Hooray

give_a_damn_icon I survived the holidays with only a few days’ worth of crushing black depression and nauseating anxiety! I can now get out of bed and do not have to force myself to shower or eat. Hooray!

I found out someone had taken the Patreon bits of Steelflower 2 and put them up for torrenting. (This is why we can’t have nice things, people.) Yes, I know who it was. No, I’m not telling. Yes, I am reconsidering writing the damn book. BOO.

I did, however, get a payout from Patreon today. Hooray?

It does not soothe the sting of someone else stealing my work, especially since that’s what killed the first Steelflower. Boo.

The kids are back in school today. I have the house to myself. Hooray!

I miss them. It’s too quiet in here. Boo.

I can go for a run now that everything is thawing! Hooray!

There are still icy patches and Miss B will no doubt try to kill me. Boo.

…I could go on, but you get the idea. Every silver lining has a cloud today. I’ll be in the corner catching up on revisions and muttering to myself, thanks.

Over and out.