Twitter Suspends Parody @NYTOnIt Account After ‘Times’ Complaint, Then Reactivates It
Twitter has reactivated @NYTOnIt, a parody account of TheNew York Times after suspending its activity on Monday.
After the Times filed a complaint against the parody Twitter account @NYTOnIt, the popular microblog suspended its activity only to reinstate it this morning with a warning to it’s operator, 29-year-old Benjamin Kabak. Should Twitter receive another complaint about the account, they will delete it permanently.
The @NYTOnIt account mocks lifestyle and trend stories reported by the Times. Kabak’s satirical posts usually follow a [-headline- and The Times is ON IT] formula. For example:
GUYS, there are *gasp* fake profiles on Facebook, and The Times is ON IT. nyti.ms/TDt1ut
— The Times Is On It (@NYTOnIt) November 13, 2012
The account had over 20,000 followers prior to its suspension, and now includes the added statement, “This is a parody account clearly not associated with any newspaper.”
Defending his account, Kabak wrote the following Monday night on “The Times Is On It” Facebook page:
“Twitter has suspended my account over a claim from The Times that my avatar violates a trademark. I say fair use. Right now, I’m waiting for Twitter to process my request to fix the problem so I can get the account reenabled. But feel free to spread the word over how the country’s largest newspaper feels threatened by a small Twitter account right now.”
The avatar in question has been taken down, and Kabak is holding a contest to replace it:
GUYS, I think it’s time for an avatar contest. Anyone want to be ON IT? facebook.com/nytonit/posts/…
— The Times Is On It (@NYTOnIt) November 20, 2012
Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy explained the paper’s complaint to Politico, noting that “this is not about feeling ‘threatened.’”
“We did file a complaint with Twitter and it is our understanding that they have suspended this account for a violation of Twitter’s terms of service,” Murphy wrote. “This is not about feeling ‘threatened.’ However, it is important to The Times that our copyright is protected and that it is clear to all users of Twitter that parody accounts or other unofficial Times accounts are not affiliated nor endorsed by The Times.”
In a follow-up email, Murphy clarified: “this is really a trademark issue, not a copyright issue. My earlier note used copyright where I should have said trademark.”
Still, Kabak says that he’s unimpressed with how the whole situation was handled:
“I think this is not a particularly great reflection on the Times‘ process or Twitter’s process because it’s not particularly transparent,” Kabak told Politico before @NYTOnIt was reactivated. “They pulled down the account without really finding out the information from me.”
What do you think? Is Benjamin Kabak’s @NYTOnIt protected under “fair use,” or is The New York Times in the right for filing a complaint against the parody Twitter account? Furthermore, should Twitter have taken the account down before issuing Kabak a warning? Sound off!