Over the weekend, Justin Wales — founder of The Plantain, Miami's homegrown version of The Onion — was flicking through Twitter when he noticed something funny about The Plantain's account.
"It had my birthday, and I thought it was kind of weird this website says it's 33 years old, so I changed it to be four years old," says Wales, who started the satirical news site in April 2016.
As soon as he clicked "OK," Wales realized his mistake — in an instant, the screen refreshed with an all-white background and a note informing him that his account was now locked. Per Twitter's service agreements, users must be 13 to have an account.
That night, Wales filed a claim with Twitter to unlock his account, @the_plantain. He still has yet to hear back.
"The only way to get my account back is I have to go and file a form with Twitter and give them a copy of my actual ID to prove I'm not four years old," he says.
This election cycle, The Plantain has weighed in on a number of local races, publishing an excoriating takedown of the Miami Herald's endorsement of State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and its own list of endorsements in the county mayoral race. The Twitter mixup could not have happened at a worse time, preventing The Plantain from jumping in on the discussion around Tuesday's primary elections.
Oh snap! Free the Plantain! https://t.co/kJI3Ho8buT— Carlos Frías (@Carlos_Frias) August 19, 2020
"It's a bummer because I was really hoping to participate in all the election-night Twitter storms," Wales says.
New Times reached out to Twitter's media-relations department to ask about The Plantain's account but received no response.
Until the original account is restored, Wales started an alternate account, @ElNuevoPlantain.
"It feels like I'm living something out of Silicon Valley," he tells New Times, "because it's like the dumbest way of losing an audience."