WMATA Blocks Twitter User, Followers Revolt

10:18 PM, May 15, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- During last night's Metro fire in Silver Spring, many turned to Twitter to get and give critical information, but today Metro put a block on one tweeter/Metro rider known for being a WMATA watchdog.

It's a story of a government agency treating different customers differently, and some say it's just unfair.

Chris Barnes created his Twitter name @FixWMATA in 2010, "I'm the guy that answers people when WMATA won't."

Barnes is an IT guy by day, and in the Twitterverse, he's a very prolific and passionate advocate for Metro riders. He even frequently attends and live-tweets the Rider's Advisory Council meetings.

But, when a rider tweeted "decent sized fire/explosions at SS Metro" Tuesday night, the former journalist started working the story, "I really do try to monitor what I say, I try to be factual, I try not to make assumptions."

Christina Gordon is one of Barnes' followers says, "He's often got information that WMATA doesn't have and its straight from people that are on the train, he's a great aggregator."

Now, it'll be tougher for Barnes to give her and his other 3,700 followers timely info, because WMATA blocked him.

WMATA issued this statement: "Our Twitter feed is primarily to provide Metro service information for riders. Violating reasonable boundaries of professional, civil discourse with profanity, personal attacks and inaccurate speculation is not a service to riders."

It's no secret Barnes is critical. One tweet reads, "WMATA playing this off as "it happens all the time" is a little concerning."

Then, when @WMATA said Tuesday night's delays were due to fire department activity rather than an actual fire the tweets went from "You don't get to blame your problems on others and then extend your gratitude to them" to an acronym that you'll have to watch the video portion of this story to see. 

Still, after today's block, Barnes has a lot of support, and WMATA has a lot of criticism.

Gordon isn't just a Twitter follower, "As a PR person I think it's bad PR."

Barnes says he won't let this deter his mission, "Whatever they did today, I'll adjust to and I'll continue doing what I'm doing. It's just baffling."

To be clear, Barnes can log out of Twitter and find WMATA's Twitter feed another way, but he has to jump through extra hoops that you and I don't have to.

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