Twitter is home to some of the rogue Nazis, racists and homophobes on the planet. But don't even think about discussing the topic that is apparently taboo on the platform: Piracy of TV programs.
Twitter deleted many tweets over the weekend that were linked to news about some television episodes that leaked online. And then Twitter also flung follow-up tweets about the deletions.
TorrentFreak, a news site that regularly reports on piracy and copyright issues, first published a story on April 8 that episodes of several television programs such as American Gods 100 Blessings This Mess and Knightfall had leaked online before flying. The episodes are watermarked screens that are normally provided to TV reviewers. TorrentFreak has called the leak "one of the biggest offenses ever."
It appears that the tweets have been removed in response to a DMCA filing submission report from Starz TV network according to emails sent to journalist Mathew Ingram and reviewed by Gizmodo. Starz airs American Gods but does not own all the exhibits that leaked online.
The original TorrentFreak news story did not specifically link to pirate sites hosting the show. But it has not stopped Twitter from deleting multiple tweets from people linked to the TorrentFreak story. Even a tweet from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has been deleted.
The original news story used screenshots as the above to illustrate that the films were screenings, complete with the watermark for someone named "Jessica Silvester." The message "For screening purpose only" is also visible in the shot along with a watermark for the gaming site 1XBET. It's not uncommon for gaming sites to collaborate with content pirates to gain more visibility for their names.
To make things even more complicated, Twitter has removed tweets that link to a follow-up version from TorrentFreak as of April 11 in a process that Ingram's tweet if the follow-up story has been removed over the weekend.
"I think it is an incredibly comprehensive interpretation of the DMCA and I am disappointed that Twitter agreed to take my tweet down – and a similar tweet by EFF – when they apparently do not violate ", told journalist Mathew Ingram Gizmodo via Twitter DM. "And I think it's extremely disturbing that Twitter takes down tweets that have links to news articles in them."
Twitter confirmed receipt of an email from Gizmodo yesterday but did not answer any questions about deleted tweets. If you try to find the existing tweets online, they are listed as "contained".
Yes, copyright holders have the right to issue DMCA messages when the content is used improperly. But, again, TorrentFreak reported only about the existence of piracy, without linking to it. If this is the case, it is a dangerous precedent for copyright on the internet.
Gizmodo updates this article if we hear back from Twitter.