Joke thieves beware: Twitter seems to be cracking down on plagiarism.
In a freewheeling universe home to millions of spambots, fake celebrities and trolls, it’s no surprise that many Twitter accounts habitually crib popular 140-character quips to rack up followers. But Twitter now seems to be using copyright rules to police this comedic fraud.
The social network is erasing and hiding a number of tweets reported as stolen and referring to the original poster as the “copyright holder,” as first spotted by the account @plagiarismbad.
The joke in question here was first tweeted by freelance writer Olga Lexell, who said in a tweet that she had explained to Twitter that such jokes are part of her professional livelihood, according to The Verge.
Lexell told the site that she has reported other tweets as stolen, and the company has taken action within a few days with no follow-up questions.
A Twitter spokesperson said the site wouldn’t comment on individual accounts and pointed to the company’s general copyright policy. The company’s policy is to give the alleged offender 10 days to respond, and it publishes all complaints to research project Chilling Effects.
Twitter received more than 25,000 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices last year, though these requests typically have to do with pictures and videos rather than the actual text of tweets. Twitter takes pains to make this information publicly available because the law has the potential for abuse by companies or organizations that want to quell negative attention.
People are now testing Twitter’s limits, though, highlighting the whack-a-mole problem the company has faced in all of its attempts to regulate the site.
Twitter has been working for months to smooth the site’s rougher edges and make it more suitable for advertisers after facing a firestorm of criticism due to its problems with tamping down trolls.