Starz’ upcoming line-up shows was leaked, along with screenings of shows like American Gods and other content. Torrent Freak reported on the leak on April 8th, 2019. In response, Starz had Twitter to take down the tweet reporting the news that the shows had leaked.
In a follow-up article published on April 11th, 2019, Torrent Freak explained that the original tweet that was posted on April 8th, 2019 had been taken down due to a DMCA claim. You can view the archive from April 11th, 2019 proving that the tweet was indeed removed from Twitter in response to a copyright claim from Social Element Agency on behalf of the rights holder, Starz.
As of the writing of this article, the tweet from April 8th, 2019 has been restored to Twitter, as indicated in an archive from April 16th, 2019. You can view the tweet below, which only has 11 retweets and 22 likes at the time of the archive on April 16th, 2019 due to the fact that the tweet was only recently restored.
Pirated Promo Screeners of ‘American Gods’ and Other TV-Shows Leak Online https://t.co/aaQ6FgmMkE
— TF (@torrentfreak) April 8, 2019
So what led to the tweet being restored? Well, YouTubers, including journalist Tim Pool, published a video about the censorship on April 15th, 2019 that garnered over a hundred thousand views on YouTube while various blue checkmarks on social media began expressing discontent and negativity over the censorship matter. Twitter and Starz – in a bid to mitigate some of the PR blowback – eased up on the censorship.
You can see the video below for the full story.
As pointed out by Pool in the video, the really troubling part about it is that on April 14th, 2019 journalist Mathew Ingram from the Columbia Journalism Review, also known as CJR, tweeted out how “Kafka-esque” the scenario was. Insofar that his tweet about Torrent Freak being censored was, in fact, censored.
This is Kafka-esque: I posted yesterday about Twitter removing a tweet from TorrrentFreak because it contained a link to an article about pirated copies of Starz shows appearing online (with no links to said content). Twitter has now removed my tweet linking to that story pic.twitter.com/pKF4VCRSit
— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) April 14, 2019
Ingram also did an article on the matter, which was published on April 15th, 2019 on CJR. In the article he explains that more than 20 tweets from prominent news outlets, free speech activists and journalists were censored by Twitter on behalf of Starz.
According to Ingram, when reached for comment Starz issued the following statement…
“It appears that in this case, some posts were inadvertently caught up in the sweep that may fall outside the DMCA guidelines,”
Later that day on April 15th, 2019, Ingram made a follow-up tweet noting that Twitter was restoring some of the wrongfully censored tweets.
Twitter says it has reviewed all of Starz’s takedown claims and is restoring access to the tweets that were removed — or “withheld,” to use that lovely Orwellian phrase Twitter has for when tweets exist but you can’t see them
— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) April 15, 2019
This is why the Torrent Freak tweet is now live again but has a low engagement count.
What we don’t know is if Twitter is also shadow banning tweets, which is not direct censorship but rather indirect censorship, as it prevents people from easily accessing the content even though the content is still publicly available. Oftentimes shadow banned content is removed from search feeds or has a low threshold for appearing in timelines in order to reduce engagement, and therefore reduce the possibility of the news spreading or inhibit the topic from trending.
This is all part of a wider narrative surrounding censorship through technocracy. Facebook, Microsoft, the U.K., and the Austrian governement all want more censorship over the content you consume and share, and how you share that content and how you respond to that content. As evident in this case, even the people who report the news are not spared the rod of censorship, and these corporations are showing that if there’s something they don’t want you to know, they can very well censor media outlets from attempting to let you know about it.
(Thanks for the news tip Animatic)