Did you hear the one about Twitter deleting tweets because they were reported as stolen jokes? The company is cracking down on joke theft and it’s using the notorious Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) as justification for deleting jokes reported as stolen, no questions asked.
Olga Lexell, a freelance writer in Los Angeles, tweeted this joke from her @runolgarun handle (which is now private) on July 9: “saw someone spill their high end juice cleanse all over the sidewalk and now I know god is on my side.” On July 25, Twitter user @PlagiarismBad revealed that Twitter replaced the text of tweets repeating Lexell’s joke with an explanation that the tweets were “withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder” and linked to the company’s “Copyright and DMCA policy” page.
BREAKING NEWS: Twitter is hiding tweets reported stolen. And it’s referring to the author as a “copyright holder” pic.twitter.com/DkteWMZ7zg
— Plagiarism Is Bad (@PlagiarismBad) July 25, 2015
Lexell confirmed that she requested that Twitter remove tweets that repeated her joke: “I simply explained to Twitter that as a freelance writer I make my living writing jokes (and I use some of my tweets to test out jokes in my other writing). I then explained that as such, the jokes are my intellectual property, and that the users in question did not have my permission to repost them without giving me credit.”
Twitter had complied with similar requests in the past by removing tweets that copied her jokes within a few days without asking her any questions, Lexell told The Verge.
A quick search shows a stream of recent tweets from users repeating the joke without any sign of repercussions.