CBP gets barrage of negative tweets about phones held at border

A Customs and Border Protection patent dispute involving over smart phone shipments held up by customs agents is now reported to be over, and the huge spike in Twitter traffic from disgruntled customers is expected to die down.

CBP was reported on May 22 to have approved shipments of the latest HTC mobile devices to enter the United States, following several days’ of detention that resulted in a surge in negative comments on Twitter.

Sources say the border protection agency, which is part of the Homeland Security Department, has approved shipment of the smart phones, according to a May 22 article in the Wall Street Journal. Shipments are said to be resuming as early as May 24.

CBP began holding back incoming shipments of several types of HTC mobile phones last week while investigating whether the devices break Apple patents.

Almost immediately, people waiting for their phones to arrive began posting negative comments on Twitter.

Traffic addressed to the @customsborder Twitter account rose by 9,900 percent in four days, from 26 mentions on May 17 to 2,600 mentions on May 20, according to a May 21 report by OhMyGov. “Most of the mentions express frustration with the agency,” the report added.

Users initiated campaigns urging the agency to free the phones for shipment, using the hashtags #FreemyEVO and #CBPevo, OhMyGov wrote.

The influx of tweets appeared to have quieted down somewhat on May 22, with a few users posting "thank you" messages to the agency.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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