If you thought the Twitter's newsfeed was a veritable marketplace of ideas just begging to be plagiarized, think again: some private eyes (i.e., the Twitter user @PlagiarismBad) are watching you, and taking Twitter to task for its lack of involvement in monitoring for plagiarized Tweets.
The recent uproar over Twitter and copyright infringement began this weekend, when the @PlagiarismBad account detected five lifted tweets that plagiarized a joke about juice cleansing.
The tweets were composed by writer and comedian Olga Lexell (Twitter handle @runolgarun), who reported the lifted tweets to Twitter.
In an interview with The Verge, Lexell vented her frustrations:
"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."
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
Twitter will respond to reports of alleged copyright infringement, such as allegations concerning the unauthorized use of a copyrighted image as a profile photo, header photo, or background, allegations concerning the unauthorized use of a copyrighted video or image uploaded through our media hosting services, or tweets containing links to allegedly infringing materials.
Because only users can flag plagiarized tweets, this means that the responsibility of monitoring for plagiarism (and subsequently the burden of proof) is left in the hands of Twitter users, not the company itself.
Even so, Twitter apparently investigates all reports filed; if a tweet is found to be plagiarized, then the tweet is replaced with a message: "This Tweet from [Twitter handle] has been withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder."
Will pressure increase Twitter's culpability for idly facilitating plagiarism? One can only hope.
Photo: Jeff Turner | Flickr