While Twitter, the website, remains online and has not simply collapsed after the vast majority of workers were fired or resigned under Elon Musk, we are already starting to see the cracks spreading through the walls.
It became apparent Sunday night that Twitter’s automated copyright strike/takedown system was no longer functional. A user went viral for uploading the entirety of The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift in two minute chunks over a 50 tweet thread. While it’s offline this morning, here’s where things get weirder still:
- The media itself was never taken down. Usually, you used to see a “this media cannot be displayed” message when a takedown happens. The tweet and account will be up, but the media is stripped. In this case, it appears someone at Twitter had to manually suspend the entire account.
- And as evidence of a further bug, right now, on mobile, I can still see the tweets from the suspended account. As in, the movie is literally playing in a tweet I am watching on my phone right now, some lingering artifact of account suspension. I can’t see it on desktop, but the tweets I favorited last night to write this article this morning are still actively viewable.
And again, fundamentally the copyright system does seem broken. Yes, this specific account was suspended, but only because it went viral and was spotted by someone working there, I think. A separate user has uploaded another full movie, 1995’s Hackers, two minutes at a time in a similar thread, and that remains online at the time of this writing.
It should be fairly obvious to anyone what kind of liability it opens Twitter up to if their copyright system is non-functional, and its newly limited pool of workers are going to need to manually hunt down infringers. Once media companies get wind of this, we could see Twitter hit with all sort of DMCA claims and potential legal issues if they can’t get a handle on this quickly. I’m picturing Disney content starting to be uploaded here and them going nuclear.
Also, it should be noted that one of Elon Musk’s big ideas for Twitter Blue is to allow users to upload long, 40+ minute videos. That would be a nightmare if they can’t fix their copyright enforcement system, but it’s not clear that anyone there is working on this issue in any meaningful capacity barring suspending that one specific Tokyo Drift account.
A drama a day at Twitter these days, with no signs of slowing down.
Update (11/21): A day later, we seem to be in the exact same scenario, with Twitter needing to manually find and suspend these accounts rather than any sort of automated copyright takedown system working.
For instance, the account mentioned in this article that uploaded Hackers has now been suspended, rather than the media simply being stripped, given that it went viral, but in about two seconds, I found another full movie online, Need for Speed, again in two minute chunks, that has been online for two days now:
There were also additional reports about World Cup games being shown on Twitter directly, which again, seems like its forcing Twitter to manually hunt down these offenders and suspend them rather than an automated system doing it for them.
If there’s anything Twitter is likely going to want to get a handle on as a priority above other issues (including rolling out Twitter Blue, which Elon says is due out at the end of the week) it’s something like this, which could result in some serious issues from them if it’s not taken care of. Twitter has not yet commented on this issue because it doesn’t appear they have a communications department to even address potential problems like this anymore. Twitter Support, the 7.1 million follower account, has not tweeted since November 15 when it was “looking into” issues about people not getting 2FA code requests, another ultra-serious issue. That was before another quarter of the staff resigned after Elon’s “click yes to remain loyal” demand last week, so it’s unclear who is operating that account now, and who is working on solving these problems.