A strange thing happened on Monday night as two major sports Twitter accounts were suspended. The biggest headline is Deadspin’s account that reaches 882,000 people going poof. SB Nation’s highly popular @SBNationGIF account also went bye bye.
With the MLB Playoffs in full swing and Major League Baseball’s notorious history of crackdowns on media copyrights, most assumed that MLB was to blame. But in actuality, it looks like this is the doing of the NFL. Gawker Media managing editor Lacey Donohue tweeted that the notice from Twitter indicated DMCA (Digital Media Copyright Act) complaints originating from the shield.
As we’ve maintained for some time now, the NFL is actually much more restrictive in video rights versus Major League Baseball. MLB has at least shown some forward-thinking behavior in making videos available on their website and YouTube embeddable and utilizing GIFs on social media. The NFL does none of that. You’d have better luck figuring out what constitutes a catch in the NFL than finding a decent shareable video. The NFL only just this year created a YouTube channel, and even then sharing is disabled by request. The NFL finally discovered YouTube in 2015!! Next they’ll create their own MySpace page.
If it is true that the NFL is behind the shutting down of these Twitter accounts, it’s just another slap in the face of fans who just want access to highlights. Is Deadspin tweeting out a GIF of a great OBJ catch going to cause Roger Goodell’s world to come crumbling down? Is SB Nation tweeting a GIF of a Jags player blocking against his team really a threat to the NFL’s business model? C’mon, man.
It’s ridiculous that these billion dollar sports leagues fail to realize that the whole purpose of social media is being social, ya know, sharing. Oh, did I mention Twitter has a “multiyear strategic partnership” with the NFL? (Insert tangential point here about all the garbage Twitter lets run amok without doing anything while a six second Vine of a J.J. Watt sack apparently gets you suspended.)
Again, if this is the NFL behind these suspensions, all it is doing here is squashing free advertising of their product. It’s no secret the NBA is so popular with young fans because they’re the one league that actually gets it when it comes to being forward-thinking in using social media and YouTube to their advantage. It’s almost like the NBA wants people to like them. What a novel concept! Now imagine Roger Goodell doing something designed to get people to like him or the NFL. Good luck with that.
UPDATE: Deadspin is now tweeting through Keith Olbermann at his @KeithOlbermann Twitter handle.
What a time to be alive.
UPDATE II: DEADSPIN BACK!
As of Tuesday morning, @SBNationGIF has still not returned from the Twitter penalty box.
UPDATE III: Here’s a statement from the NFL on the matter:
“The NFL sent routine notices as part of its copyright enforcement program requesting that Twitter disable links to more than a dozen pirated NFL game videos and highlights that violate the NFL’s copyrights. We did not request that any Twitter account be suspended.”