The vigilante account that’s defending Twitter jokes from plagiarism

Louis Dor
Thursday 21 September 2017 16:15
Science and Tech
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Tweet plagiarism, the copying and pasting or intellectual theft of a joke or interesting take, is commonplace.

Social media has been around for over a decade and it's no longer there for just leisure users. It's a place of big business and impressive profits.

So when an original, funny tweet goes viral...

People often hop on the bandwagon to copy it.

Some accounts with massive followings have turned this into an art form, taking original tweets...

...and passing it off as their own to a wider audience of millions.

In a social media world where content is king and plagiarism is profitable, the meme economy has become easily corrupted.

One account however, has sought to fix this issue - @KaleSalad.

Kale Salad is an account that rarely composes tweets of their own - their only goal is to retweet the original, first versions of the tweets - the untapped source if you will.

The account has become one large landing page of the most viral tweets, correctly accredited to their creators and is shrugging off the copycats of the social media platform.

Here's a current feed from KaleSalad.

indy100 caught up with Kale Salad to ask them a few questions:

The brand, as it were, has turned a few heads on the social network for its well-executed curation. Kale Salad self-described mission statement is to "Mostly to give credit to the creators and provide a way to amplify their work". Although they concede that it might not be "possible to prevent meme plagiarism in general, just because of the nature of how things share and spread on places like Twitter and Tumblr."

Its true, it's easy to screengrab and repost a funny picture or bit of text as your own without being traced (unless people have already seen it and called you on it). There's currently no easy way to reverse image search within Twitter itself - so that funny dog picture you just posted could be anywhere by now.

It's exactly this concept that's raised when I ask about what measures Twitter could take to tackle the plagiarism problem, KaleSalad remarks:

They do have ways of doing of reporting it but not sure if they would ever fully enforce it.

"I think in a way they are doing it for videos, since they let people tweet a video in a way that sources back to the original person. A simple reverse image search within Twitter would be nice too since a lot of people seem to want to [use it]."

So who's behind @KaleSalad and why is the account only following American restaurateur Guy Fieri?

He tells me his name is Samir, and he works in social media.

As for Guy Fieri, well...

Why not?

Samir tells me he got the idea for a retweet-based, curated account because he's drawn to the purpose of publicising curators.

When asked what a victory looks like for the account, he replies:

A victory is probably getting the original tweet to having more engagement than the stolen version.

I have been a fan of great tweets for so long and always wanted to have a way to give back and amplify them.

So how does he get to original tweets in the first place? Or verify that these tweets are indeed the originals?

If you think there's some hi-tech methods at play, you may be surprised to find it's old-fashioned social media legwork.

Mostly a combination of lists, people I follow, Twitter search, Google search, and people DMing original tweets as well as @ replying to me with the originals.

My account isn't just tweets that have been stolen but also has great tweets that I think people will enjoy.

The account has gained popularity rapidly, up to 116,000 followers in only a few months.

The account was also recently verified, although Samir doubts that his verification is some acknowledgement from Twitter that the platform has a plagiarism problem.

Not sure if it is related to that as much as a way to recognise that my account is good and provides a great service to Twitter users?

Lol, they should suggest it to new users.

Twitter was contacted for comment for this article and referred indy100 to the Twitter trademark and copyright policy as well as their rules.

The policy reads:

Twitter will respond to reports of alleged copyright infringement, such as allegations concerning the unauthorised use of a copyrighted image as a profile or header photo, allegations concerning the unauthorised use of a copyrighted video or image uploaded through our media hosting services, or Tweets containing links to allegedly infringing materials.

Note that not all unauthorised uses of copyrighted materials are infringements (see our Fair Use page for more information).

A spokesperson also told me:

We publish copyright requests made twice-yearly in our Transparency Report and also via Lumen.

And while the data shows increased attention to the issue of copyright...

The theft of a good joke is less likely to elicit a complaint than Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint than, say, a snippet of prime NFL footage in a short video - and Twitter is unlikely to take action either.

For the meantime, it remains an issue for users self-moderate, to varying degrees of success.

More: Twitter has finally started deleting plagiarised jokes because of copyright

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