The founding editor of Business Insider UK, Jim Edwards, has had two tweets removed by Twitter at the request of Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML). Jim claims that in an e-mail from Bank of America, the bank threatened to remove the editor’s Twitter if he “kept it up.”
While this is only two tweets, there is a principle at stake. Investment banks apparently have the power to censor journalists on Twitter, simply by asking.
In the tweets Edwards had quoted a research document produced by analyst Teo Lasarte at Bank of America. One of the tweets was recoverable – which reads: “BAML’s Teo Lasarte is developing a pun-based method for analyzing auto stocks.” On Business Insider Jim Edwards continues:
The deletions occurred after one of BAML’s service providers complained under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The act was intended to protect creative people by giving them strong rights to stop pirates from making copies of their works and publishing them free. But tech companies have largely interpreted the act as requiring them to delete content from their servers as soon as someone complains that it has been posted without permission, regardless of how frivolous the copyright claim might be, even outside the US.
I suspect that neither Twitter nor BAML actually knew about this. The DMCA claim came from a person called Devon E. E. Weston at something called Attributor Corporation. There is a Devon Weston who works at Digimarc, a company that does digital rights management, and Digimarc acquired Attributor Corp. in 2012. Assuming it is the same person, I reached out to her by email and on LinkedIn for comment.
Other gaffes from BOA include this $4 billion dollar accounting error and a branch that was foreclosed on by an angry Florida homeowner. Jim Edwards has appealed the claim via Twitter’s system and has yet to hear back.
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