There are over 30 million tweeters in the world; that’s 28 million more than last year. Though each tweet may only consist of 140 characters or less, that still equates to a great deal of content. It is not a shocking revelation, therefore, that not every tweet is a unique snowflake. If you’re trapped in a traffic jam on your local freeway, for instance, surrounded by hundreds, maybe thousands of other motorists, how many of them are reaching for their mobile device to tweet the news? How many tweets exist saying, “Stupid traffic!”?
This is not plagiarism. Case in point:
The replication of explicitly unique tweets, however, is a more hot-button topic as of late. One of the more highly touted examples pertains to a tweet written by @sloganeerist (the blank line indicates an expletive removed to preserve the spiritual well-being of children. If you’re already privy to those bad words, this is the original tweet).
25 people then posted this exact tweet with no credit given to @sloganeerist (see a complete list of people). First, did every one of those 25 people tweet without credit with malicious intent? Probably not. I’ll guess that most people found this tweet funny and wanted to spread the joy. The issue here is, however, that what they did was plagiarism by Twitter’s standards. Twitter has said…
Reposting others’ content without attribution is against the Twitter rules
Re-posting another person’s updates without giving them credit and without their permission is a violation of Twitter’s rules. Accounts re-posting others’ updates (with or without crediting the author) may be immediately suspended because:
1. Re-posting others’ updates, regardless of stating authorship, is a potential form of spam
2. Re-posting others’ updates as one’s own without giving credit to the original author is tantamount to plagiarism
If an account is aggregating or re-posting others’ updates for a legitimate reason, such as collecting and re-posting all updates with the word “dream” into @dreamtweets profile, it’s ok as long as the original author is credited for their update.
If a tweet is re-posted with no citation, there are steps the offended may take to rectify the situation.
Filing a complaint
If an account is re-posting updates without crediting you as the author, you should:
1. Send an @reply to @spam with the user name of the account. Our spam team can take a look at the account and determine if it’s a case of spam or a case of confusion about how you re-post updates in the right way.
2. Send a removal request via @reply to the tweetjacking profile. If you don’t want your updates re-posted without crediting you as author, ask the account owner to remove them from their time line. They have 24 hours to either remove your updates or give you credit for updates that are yours.
3. File a support request under the spam section. If the account has not removed your updates from their time line within 24 hours, provide the profile URL of the account that is re-posting your updates, and the URL of your removal request to the account owner, like so: http://twitter.com/hotdogsladies/status/1052012892
Despite these rules, there is an argument as to whether this is really wrong. A few weeks ago, at a SageRock Friday Meeting extravaganza, we discussed Twitter Plagarism (also known as tweetjacking or twitterjacking). Half of our group found that, no, it is not wrong. Their reasoning was that it’s Twitter; and theft of tweets caused no monetary stress, so what did it matter? The other half considered tweets to be a component of intellectual property, and was therefore off limits to reproduction without citation. Our conversation ended with no clear agreement.
What is your view on Twitter plagiarism? If you or your business profile posted content that was shared by others with no citation to your original post, how would you react?
Image courtesy of Elmo Keep http://www.flickr.com/photos/elmo/3192821539/