If you’re in charge of communications for a major college football program, the third Saturday in May should be one of the rare times in the year when you can relax. Spring football is over, and the season is still months in the distance.
Except if you’re in charge of messaging for a major program in the state of Iowa. Then you’ve had quite a Saturday.
Both Iowa and Iowa State saw their football programs’ official Twitter accounts shut down on Saturday. Both accounts, @HawkeyeFootball and @CycloneFB, were suspended, with a standard note saying, “Twitter suspends accounts that violate the Twitter Rules.” Each account remains shut down as of this writing, hours after they were originally knocked offline.
Twitter’s landing page for suspended accounts says accounts are commonly shut down for one of three reasons:
Spam: Most of the accounts we suspend are suspended because they are spammy, or just plain fake, and they introduce security risks for Twitter and all of our users. These types of accounts are against our Twitter Rules. Unfortunately, sometimes a real person’s account gets suspended by mistake, and in those cases we’ll work with the person to make sure the account is unsuspended.
Account security at risk: If we suspect an account has been hacked or compromised, we may suspend it until it can be secured and restored to the account owner in order to reduce potentially malicious activity caused by the compromise.
Abusive Tweets or behavior: We may suspend an account if it has been reported to us as violating our Rules surrounding abuse. When an account engages in abusive behavior, like sending threats to others or impersonating other accounts, we may suspend it temporarily or, in some cases, permanently.
Since neither account was engaged in spam or abusive behavior, the most likely factors are that a rogue actor was attempting to hack the accounts, or that they were unwittingly posting copyrighted material. The fact that both programs in the state of Iowa were the only ones among the 24 combined Big Ten and Big 12 programs is certainly suspicious.
Both programs told the Des Moines Register they are looking into the matter.