dogs hanging out, being dogs

Photo via Jared and Corin/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

Doggone it.

Twitter has its fair share of harassment issues, but those usually take the form of unwanted messages and replies. On Tuesday evening, a more indirect form of harassment led to the temporary suspension of the popular account @Dog_rates.

Twitter suspended the account, which is a major distributor of good dogs on the social network, thanks to a DMCA copyright complaint. Account operator Matt Nelson posted on his personal Twitter that he received an email from the person responsible for the takedown.

The unidentified person behind the email from [email protected] claimed that Nelson had stolen material from them.

Asked about the takedown, Myteenquote123 told the Daily Dot, “He stole my account from me and my images and watermarked them. It was always my account.”

When pressed for additional information about the images that were allegedly stolen, Myteenquote123 said, “He stole one image from me. I only sent in one report.” 

But Nelson contradicted this, saying, “The person behind that email used this to pretend to be them and file the reports. He filed enough to get the account taken down in less than 3 hours.”

Myteenquote123 never disclosed the image or images that resulted in the takedown.

The incident between Myteenquote123 and Nelson began on Feb. 3, 2016. In an email exchange obtained by the Daily Dot, Myteenquote123 told Nelson, “I am doing this because I am dogrates and you are the fake. I copied you on instagram but i’m guessing u already seen this. when i steal enough tweets from you. ur account is gonna be shutdown on twitter. i want all your followers lol.”

On Monday, Nelson tweeted out a screenshot of an Instagram account that had been repurposing images from the @Dog_rates account and posting them as its own content. Nelson pointed out that the account had previously been a fan account dedicated to Ariana Grande.

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The Instagram account had the username DogRates, while Nelson had started his own Instagram account with the username WeRateDogs. Myteenquote123 claimed ownership over the DogRates Instagram account in an email to the Daily Dot, but Nelson said that wasn’t true.

“They’re not behind that Instagram account,” Nelson explained. “I spoke with the actual owner a couple days ago. He changed the bio to say he’s purely a fan account. I have no problems with him.”

According to Nelson, Myteenquote123 exploited the Twitter copyright claims system to get the @Dog_rates account suspended. 

“Whoever is behind that email filed multiple DMCA claims posing as various people,” he said.” The people he was posing as were people who’s [sic] dogs I had posted. All of which I had full permission to post.”

Nelson said that it is his standard practice to tag the sender of each photo when he posts it as a way to credit the photographer.

Later in the email thread, Myteenquote123 threatened other Twitter accounts, including @EverythingGoats—an account dedicated to posting, as one might imagine, photos and videos of goats. 

“Tell everything goats to shut up and delete the tweets or that account is next to go,” Myteenquote123 said. In another email, sent after Nelson tweeted a screenshot of the initial message, myteenquote123 said, “Because you just published this to your followers. I’m going after the goats next. Please let them know.”

In reference to Matt Nelson’s posts on Twitter about the incident, Myteenquote123 said, “The guy is going crazy,” and added, “It’s a Twitter account, no big deal.” The person behind the account also said that they were “upset the Twitter account is suspended.”

Abruptly, Myteenquote123 seemed to have a change of heart about their attempts to hold popular, animal-centric Twitter accounts hostage. The person promised not to file any additional copyright claims as long as Nelson deleted the images with false copyright claims.

Once the tweets were deleted, Myteenquote123 sent a final email that said, “Enjoy your account. Sorry about that. I’m just a one of your old followers. I’m going through a tough time I’m really sorry.”

Twitter restored @Dog_rates, and the images that previously had copyright claims are no longer visible on the account.

Nelson has regularly outed copycat accounts on Twitter, pointing out instances of similar content posted on multiple accounts without changes or attribution.

Nelson said the whole incident “truly shows how broken the Twitter copyright system is.”

Last year, Twitter updated its policy to allow users to get stolen jokes removed from the platform. But copyright abuse has long been an issue for the company; some people have used DMCA claims to silence others, and terrorists have even manipulated the system to get anti-extremist accounts suspended—including official U.S. State Department feeds.

When asked about the temporary suspension of @Dog_rates, Twitter spokesperson Nu Wexler told the Daily Dot, “We do not comment on individual accounts, for privacy and security reasons.” 

Photo via Jared and Corin/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

AJ Dellinger

AJ Dellinger

AJ Dellinger is a seasoned technology writer whose work has appeared in Digital Trends, International Business Times, and Newsweek. In 2018, he joined Gizmodo as the nights and weekend editor.