Wednesday, April 15, 2009

WMATA's Tweets

We've often wondered why there were so many tweets apparently coming from "WMATA," including @WMATA, which is NOT really WMATA at all. @WMATA has 980 followers, while @metroopensdoors, the official WMATA account, has only 362. Confused?
Here's the explanation from Ronald A. Holzer Jr. in the Office Of Public Relations.
"Your blog incorrectly lists the WMATA twitter as
There are many transit junkies in the area that have twitter accounts that bear our name. These people are using our RSS feed to populate their messages, which often exceed the 140 character twitter limit.
WMATA does have an official twitter account,, which was posted on our Web site, March 25th.
We use an automated feed to populate the majority of “tweets” on this account and are working to update message lengths and content. We will also send other important information and respond to feedback as appropriate."

Given this, we'd like to correct a post from yesterday. WMATA's official tweet was "Ballston. All station escalators and elevators are out of service. Shuttle bus service has been requested. The station remains open."

When asked what the real WMATA was doing about the impostors Holzer said the following in an email:
So far we haven't done anything. Since the information is just a re-broadcast of what we post on our webpage, and several of them have more followers than we do, we are not doing anything. If they become a problem, according to twitter terms of service, we can have them removed. Until then, the more people that get our message, the better.

We look forward to 140 character tweets from the metroopensdoors and hope our Twitter name will never confuse us with WMATA.

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urban bohemian said...

Unlike most people who swipe a twitter name that really should belong to the official entity, @wmata hasn't offered to give it to the rightful owner.

Even though WMATA's info is spotty at best, they really should be the ones serving up the feed under their own name. That said, @metroopensdoors is on the case, though some of the other twitter accounts that pull info directly from RSS feeds are faster.

Anonymous said...

what woudl happen if whomever @wmata is got mad at wmata?

Mike b said...

They are asking for trouble.

Jeff Foust said...

Interesting. Last year I set up a set of Twitter feeds (@dcmetrored, @dcmetroblue, etc.) to relay service notices. I make it pretty clear that these are unofficial, and not associated with WMATA in any way. WMATA has never contacted me about them in any way - the comment from Mr. Holzer is the first indication that they might have even taken notice of them. I'll have to keep an eye out for that.

(And one of the items on my voluminous to-do list is to tweak the scripting I use to deal with notices over 140 characters long, to try and avoid truncating key info.)

Anonymous said...

People are still confused .. update this article.. talk about @metroopendoors being verified. !!

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