Twitter finally suspends profiteering joke imposters

This just in!

Twitter has ramped up its policing of joke thieves, plagiarists and imposters of famous funny folks. A long-running Chris Rock imposter’s account (@ChrisRockOZ): Suspended! A fake Bill Murray? Now just a string of RTs and some private Instagram photos. The @itsWillyFerrell account continues with 1.76 million followers, but is clearly labeled Not Will Ferrell, and carries a separate gmail address.

What gives? Or, rather: HOORAY!

Earlier this summer, we helped report on how Twitter had gotten more adept at and sensitive to complaints from actual comedians over people profiting by stealing their jokes without attribution. (Most of @FATJEW’s egregious joke stealing happens on Instagram)

On Tuesday, reddit user jeffmarketing posted, “Twitter Purge: The End of Parody Accounts.”

To wit:

Intro: Over the past few weeks, Twitter has begun suspending some of its largest parody accounts. Skeptics are saying it’s because of spam or abusive content or possibly aggressive following but twitter has yet to comment. These Publishers (often times college age) relied on Twitter as their full-time job. And they were powerful. They could easily send millions of visitors to your website. Now the self-proclaimed “twitterpreneurs” have been bullied out of their accounts.

Bottom Line: The main problem is that these twitter publishers had their real estate stolen out from under them without any explanation. And a majority of you may think “oh its just a twitter account what’s the big deal”. Well the big deal is that an account with 1 Million Followers could easily fetch around $40,000.

EDIT: To the people saying that Twitter makes no money off them, they create the most content and drive most of the trends.

Also, if Twitter were to partner with the large accounts (similar to YouTube), then the large accounts could be sharing the Promoted Tweets rather than click-bait spam links.

One such suspended account, Girl Thoughts (@femaiethings) claimed that she had 1.8 million Twitter followers at the time Twitter suspended her account, “and as far as I’m concerned I never broke the rules.” When other users pointed out she was copying and pasting other jokes, “Femaiethings” first replied: “You hating on us wont stop us from doing what we do so you can fuck off, also instead of putting this time on being all up in our business maybe you should focus on yourself instead, dont hate us cause you aint us…”

Then added: “most tweets i posted were just shit i encountered in everyday life, basically all i did was tweet it out instead of saying it loud and people agreed. i mean sometimes i would get annoyed over something and then id tweet about it and next thing i knew people were tagging their friends and rting because they could relate to it. of course i did sometimes post stuff that someone else had posted but i didnt do it bc i wanted to have something to post but because i felt the same way but in the end most of my tweets were about things i encountered in everyday life. my twitter was like an anonymous diary that anyone could access. I understand that it pisses many people off because not many people are smart enough to know how to build up a twitter and not everyone have that time. i started when i was 11 and it took me 5 hard years to build up my account and im not planning on stopping now so hopefully i can have it back and running again soon”

OK. Hold on. Stop the presses. Does the Internet have presses? Alrighty then, just pause and take a breath while I highlight a couple of things in that paragraph just preceding. And fix the punctuation and grammar. And italicize and bold so you pay attention.

“Of course, I did sometimes post stuff that someone else had posted, but I didn’t do it because I wanted to have something to post, but because I felt the same way.”

“My Twitter was like an anonymous diary.”

“I understand it pisses many people off because not many people are smart enough to know how to build up a Twitter and not everyone has that time.”

“I started when I was 11 and it took me five hard years to build up my account, and I’m not planning on stopping now, so hopefully I can have it back and running again soon.”

Well. Um. Where to start? Parents? If this 16-year-old is profiting by stealing your funny thoughts, and choosing to remain anonymous while making a profit — then claiming you’re not the smart one. Well, you’ve finally been outsmarted by Twitter. At least for now. Also. Sixteen years old!

“Femaiethings” went on to defend the practice by claiming to also have raised money for charity, and defending joke stealing by saying that “posting racist shit and bullying others” is more problematic on Twitter.

Which may be true but doesn’t excuse building up an audience of 1.8 million by stealing the ideas of others.

Then again, there are millions of people who still follow fake Twitter accounts and RT them as if they’re real, and how are we going to educate them?

Twitter’s current policies are as follows…

Fan accounts: Twitter is cool with you creating an account paying tribute to your favorite comedian. But the username and the displayed name cannot be of the actual person/show/movie or include that real name “in a misleading manner.” Moreover, “The bio should include a statement to distinguish it from the real company, such as “Unofficial Account,” “Fan Account,” or “Not affiliated with…””

A separate Twitter “Impersonation Policy” makes it clear: “Twitter accounts portraying another person in a confusing or deceptive manner may be permanently suspended under the Twitter impersonation policy.”

Here’s how to report abusive behavior on Twitter.

How to report impersonation on Twitter.

How to report copyright infringement on Twitter.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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