Sparked by DMCA complaints
Twitter has more content than it can handle and might be banning ordinary users more aggressively, like Jim Weber, by automatically reacting to DMCA complaints.
The problem is, DMCA complaints are often automated and aren’t always valid, and companies don’t always review the complaints. It’s a legit problem. Especially for Twitter with its billions of tweets.
Who is evil mastermind Jim Weber?
You can read Jim’s perspective here, but let’s talk about the bigger picture.
When I first heard about Jim Weber, I figured maybe he was testing Twitter’s limits by auto-posting trending Olympics photos from Reddit. That’s not the case here. Jim’s posts sound normal to me. Here’s one of his Twitter tweets: “Exactly 1 week from now, we will all be watching college football.” Okay, Jim is no evil genius.
Trusting bots to do human tasks
I’d say Jim, a typical sports fan, was the victim of cost-cutting automation. When companies replace human reviewers with off-the-rails artificial intelligence, ordinary users feel the pain. When that pain goes viral, brands are damaged.
I have personal experience with this, as Digital Ocean automatically shut down one of my clients because a copyright holder sent bogus, rapid-fire DMCA takedown complaints on autopilot, even after the content was removed.
If you’re wondering, the complaints were about tiny “open graph” thumbnails.
Swift and automatic
What’s worse than one off-the-rails algorithm?
Two off-the-rails algorithms talking to each other.
That’s exactly the problem here. Copyright holders don’t have all day to scan the Internet for infringements. So they turn to automation, sending out bursts of takedown notices automatically. To avoid large statutory damages, some service providers just remove the content automatically, which is how Jim Weber’s account was suspended.
How to protect your business
As a business publishing content, what can you do to protect yourself? I’d say research the services you depend on.
For example, the best web hosts do not blindly shut down accounts that receive DMCA takedown complaints, and they’re proactively on your side.
Other services will shut you down immediately, without contacting you, and you could be out of luck. Whatever the complaint is, you at least want to be contacted, and you want time to investigate and correct the problem.