Getting banned from Twitter can be incredibly easy or hard as hell. Breitbart blogger Milo Yiannopolous, for instance, only got banned last month after years of encouraging his followers to harass people. He eventually messed with the wrong person when he incited a barrage of racist harassment against Leslie Jones. After Jones said she was quitting Twitter, a lot of websites (including this one!) wrote about the incident and Yiannopolous was removed from the site. Did it have to do with all the bad press? Who knows! Image: Getty
Today, in a LinkedIn post, sports writer Jim Weber revealed how one small mistake can get you banned from Twitter for good. All it took was Weber posting a GIF from the Olympics. He writes,
I had read that the IOC was banning the press from using GIFs but I didn't see how that applied to me. Sure, I didn't have the rights to any footage at the Olympics — just like countless blogs and users don't have rights to the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA footage that they create GIFs out of and profit from every day.
He first received a message from Twitter informing him that one of his tweets containing a gif of Aly Raisman had been taken down due to a DMCA complaint with IOC's complaint against him attached. The email warned him that if he didn't respond in 10 minutes, the committee would reserve "all its right to take whatever action against [him] that it deems appropriate, including seeking injunctive relief, costs and damages, without any further notification".
But three minutes later, Weber's Twitter account was gone. First Twitter said it was temporarily suspending him, but four days later, he discovered he was permanently banned. He had over 100,000 followers.
The thing is, this isn't standard protocol for Twitter. Although Twitter made an example out of Yiannopolous (more like Yaaaaawn-opolous am I right?) for harassing Leslie Jones, the company has a bad track record when it comes to banning people. In May, for example, Twitter told an unnamed woman to file a DMCA complaint after her harassers began to tweet out pictures of her two-year-old son. What Twitter didn't tell her is that when you file a DMCA complaint, a copy of the document (which includes the personal information of whoever filed it) gets sent to target of the complaint. So in lieu of removing the offenders from the site, Twitter basically gave them this woman's address and phone number.
The accounts that posted the offending pictures, by the way, were not suspended.
For his part, Weber suspects that his ban from the site has to do with Twitter "cozying up to organisations like the IOC as the platform tries to turn sports live streaming into a major part of its offering".
What does this teach us? The IOC is a bunch of whiny, GIF-hoarding babies that are not to be screwed with, for one. Moreover, Twitter's terms and services might apply to all, but — and this is a total shot in the dark — the way they are enforced could have something to do with money and/or power. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯