My Twitter odyssey - locked out for months because of 2-factor authentciation

I was locked out of my Twitter account. For months. The struggle with Twitter support was unbelievably hard! But finally I have it back.

Twitter's two-factor authentication is broken. Not everywhere but in regions or with providers where Twitter's SMS services do not work.

Here is what happened to me: mid of June, my smartphone went dead. Unfortunately, I had been foolish enough to enable two-factor authentication (in Twitters terms "log-in verification"). The way the verification worked for me was that when I tried to log in in the browser, a push notification with a verification code was sent to my already logged in Twitter app. But what nobody tells you: should your Twitter app EVER be logged out or unavailable, you have NO chance to get access to your account again, provided that you live in a country like Germany - which Twitter seems to treat regard as some kind of 3rd world country.

The problem is: Twitter has so called "short codes", which are short phone numbers they use for SMS communication. Those are used to tweet and to configure Twitter via SMS. However, Twitter provides these short codes only for some mobile providers. In Germany though, only a so called "long code", i.e. a regular mobile phone number is available. Deep in Twitter's documentation, you find the information that in countries, where only a short code is available, the SMS interface does not work, so Twitter cannot send you SMS.

But their system is so incredibly ignorant. When you live in a country where only a long code is available and have 2-factor notification enabled and try to log in, it prompts you to enter a verification code that it claims that it has sent to your mobile phone via SMS. However, since SMS are not working in coutnries with long codes, the SMS never reaches you and you are stuck.

So next thing you do is RTFM. Again, the documentation is wrong. Is says you should send SMS containing "START" to your code - which however does not work, since you are in an area with a long code.

Next thing you do is to ask their customer support. Now it gets really Kafkaesque. Twitter's support is to dumb to know their own system. They send you pre-fabricated text blocks over and over again. I gave them detailed bug reports, that they confidently ignored. At some point they even told me, they were sorry, they could not disable two-factor authentication form me (which could never work in my area) and I should simply get another account as mine would be lost. I was furious as you can imagine.

But I tried over and over again, as I read in some forums that in other cases they were willing to disable it. I quoted the support answers which others quoted in their posts, proving that Twitter can disable it. And finally, today, they did.

I'm happy on the one hand, but on the other hand I'm still furious on Twitter. How can their support be so ignorant. They treat you as if you were a dumbass although you give them a detailed error analysis. Nevertheless, I'll be tweeting again.

Twitter sucks when you live in a long-code area and have two-factor authentication enabled. Disable it immediately or you can easily get locked out of your account.


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