Blue Checkmark Blues

Oh, Twitter. You’re so funny.

Remember this little 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: http://www.lilithsaintcrow.com/2014/02/twitter-cut-it-out/) 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.

Internal Engines

jazzhands.jpeg So apparently yesterday’s bees (look, they won’t sting me, but it is a bit concerning to pull my tank top away from my breasts and have a bee fly out, really) were carrying a night of vivid dreams for me. Which, great, I must have signed up for this sort of shit before I was born and I’ll put up with it, but really, YOU COULD HAVE JUST SENT A CROW, FOR GOD’S SAKE. (Aaaaaand this just landed in my inbox from my writing partner, who delights in doing such things.)

Anyway. Ahem. Hi. Welcome back, dear Readers. In the past couple weeks I’ve finished revising two all-new books and sent them off. While I chew on my fingers waiting to hear back (no, that’s not a typo, we’re down to actual flesh) I get to try and force myself to take a breath before going in to restructure, rebuild, revise, and just generally make CORMORANT RUN better. I wrote the zero and first drafts at such a white heat I’m surprised my hair didn’t catch on fire, and it’s a good thing I have my favorite editor around to tell me where the story in my head needs a little more clarification on the page.

Editing doesn’t have to be adversarial.

The trouble is, my internal engines are unstable and going at such high speed I stand a very real risk of pulling some mental muscles by going back into the fray before I’ve healed up. At the same time, I am aching–aching–to get some more work out the door, because the financial hit from having to shelve the Book That Shall Not Be Named because fuckwits kept stealing has been…severe. I’m not quite at the point of no return yet, but I’m definitely in Anxiety Land.

I keep telling myself that things have been truly bleak before and this is not that. I practice self-care, I am taking the long view and choosing not to do short-term flailing that will injure my ability to keep producing. At least, producing for public consumption. I’ll always write, it’s just publishing that seems to be the strangle-point. Then again, after being in this game for over a decade now, I should know that it’s cyclical.

Why do I speak about this publicly? Because a lot of people don’t. Because there are few things “new” and aspiring writers need to know more than what makes a sustainable career. Because being honest about it helps demystify the process of making a living as a creative. Also, because I want people to know and understand the consequences of thievery, and to shame those who still indulge in it. Also also, because I don’t have time for bullshit, and openness discourages yon fragrant bovine droppings liek woah.

Yes. Well. Now I have to distract myself so I don’t go blazing into the next round of revisions just yet and hurt myself.

…It’s going to be a long weekend.

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.

Old Bones

diningmonster Another day of the big yellow thing in the sky glaring at us all. Yesterday was oddly warm, so the kids and I went out back and did some general garden cleanup, planning, putting some more bulbs in, all that type of springlike stuff. It’s only February but the crocuses are up, the daffodils are already a hand’s-length tall, and the trees cannot be restrained from swelling their buds. I just keep wincing and telling them all, don’t get too comfortable, it’s only February, we could still get some ice, oh, my dears, do be careful.

The Princess trimmed her lavender, and Emphysema Joe thanked her kindly for it. Norbert the gargoyle has come through the winter somewhat physically cracked, but there is a new twinkle in his eye and his smile is much more pleased than it has been in recent years. “I’M GLAD YOU’RE LETTING ME STAY HERE, EVEN IF I’M A BIT OLDER,” he said yesterday, while I basked on one of the large rocks near the garden for a few minutes. “THAT’S THE TROUBLE THESE DAYS, YOU CAN’T FIND A PLACE FOR OLD BONES TO REST.”

“You can stay there until you’re shards and dust, my friend.” That was my promise, and he grinned even more widely. It’s a change to see him so happy, but maybe he’s just drunk on early spring. He’ll be cantankerous again in no time, I’m sure.

I’m a little worried the mason bees will hatch too early, as well. I have beans and winter peas in the ground and a few favas have decided to come up from last year, but I’m not sure they’ll be flowering in time. I suppose I should just hope for the best, as usual, and trust that they know what they’re doing.

The only fly in the ointment was the people up the street, who started lighting off fireworks during the big American football game. Screaming and booms, and Miss B startled almost out of her skin. I had to dose her with her anxiety meds, she didn’t stop trembling until they kicked in. It was awful. Fireworks are illegal around here except on the Fourth–and that may change soon, being illegal all year ’round. This, in my opinion, cannot happen soon enough. Not only is the noise physically stressful for both me and B, but the mess afterward that doesn’t get cleaned up, the accidents flooding the emergency rooms, the fires, dear God, just make it stop. I have never liked fireworks, ever. Watching them in a crowd just makes me want to hit the ground every time the artillery goes off and each year I am deathly afraid our roof will catch on fire, or one of the trees around our house.

Anyway. Time to head out into the yellow glare for a run. Miss B will be much easier after all the stress is run off, and I daresay I will be too.

Then it’s back to the projects on boil now, and catching up with some of the chores I played hooky on yesterday. As per usual, I probably need a weekend to recover from the weekend.

Over and out.

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.