If you don’t understand it, don’t allow it.
That could be the thinking behind why mobile operator T-Mobile has begun blocking Twitter usage in the US, and opening up a customer service debacle, not to mention a public relations one.
After contacting T-Mobile’s customer support, some bloggers are quoting responses where T-Mobile simply cites their terms of service, saying that Twitter isn’t an authorized third-party service and so won’t be allowed.
In fact, Twitter itself has a caution about using the service on a mobile phone:
[...] Consult your service provider to ensure that your text plan covers your Twitter usage. Give your provider the Twitter phone number you’ll be using to see if you’ll incur extra charges.
They might need to edit that text to add something like "…or to see if your provider won’t allow usage."
In any event, while T-Mobile may well be within their rights to enable a service block like this, the way in which they’ve gone about it is not smart at all.
There’s a lot of confusion as some people can receive messages from Twitter but not send them; others have no idea why messages aren’t getting through.
What I fail to understand is why any mobile operator would want to prohibit use of a service over its network where using it costs the customer money.
You pay to send a Twitter message if it goes by SMS, just like any other text message.
Maybe T-Mobile is concerned about heavy usage by people who Twitter a lot and get message notifications sent to their mobile phone. Yet isn’t it the case that, typically, you pay to receive text messages in the US as well as send them?
Not only that, more tools are available that make it so easy to use Twitter from a mobile phone. Twitter has a site specifically formatted for mobiles. And if you use a Blackberry, you can now Twitter from one of those.
No, T-Mobile’s action makes little sense to me.
All that’s happening at the moment is an increasing number of angry bloggers who are T-Mobile customers are writing lots of negative commentary about T-Mobile. It won’t be long before this is picked up by mainstream media.