Update: Our long national nightmare is over. Twitter has reinstated @NYTOnIt, under the condition that it gets a new logo or else face “permanent deletion.” The NYTOnIt Facebook page is now having a design contest for a new logo.
Avid media watchers are well acquainted with the presence of @NYTOnIt, a longstanding Twitter account that gently mocks The New York Times by pointing out articles or trend stories that tread somewhere between indulgent and “duh.” Each tweet always ends with “and The Times is ON IT” to drive home the point that the stories tweeted by @NYTOnIt are some of the Times’s less-than-thought-provoking fare. As the account’s Twitter bio explains, “Because sometimes stories in newspapers are just *that* obvious.”
But now, Twitter has suspended the beloved @NYTOnIt account, which according to a Google cache of the page boasted over 20,000 followers. The account is now inaccessible via Twitter.
Benjamin Kabak, author of the blog Second Avenue Sagas, outed himself on Twitter as the writer behind @NYTOnIT. “Considering how many NYTers know I run @NYTOnIt, it’s pretty disappointing they couldn’t contact me without going through Twitter’s TOS,” he tweeted. “Some Times lawyer got upset over my edited use of the T logo. I say it’s fair use and they used Twitter’s TOS to suspend account. So now I have to wait for Twitter to unsuspend the account before I can correct the *allegedly infringing* materials.”
Mr. Kabak further explained what happened on the Times is On It Facebook page:
Twitter has suspended my account over a claim from The Times that my avatar violates a trademark. I say fair use. Right now, I’m waiting for Twitter to process my request to fix the problem so I can get the account reenabled. But feel free to spread the word over how the country’s largest newspaper feels threatened by a small Twitter account right now.
@NYTOnIt does use an edited version of the “T” used to represent The New York Times Style Magazine. But Mr. Kabak was careful to differentiate the account from the actual New York Times, including the following line in @NYTOnIt’s bio: “(This is a parody account clearly not associated with any newspaper.)”
Twitter does not comment on individual accounts, so can’t offer any further clarification as to why the account was suspended. We’ve reached out to The New York Times for comment and will update when we hear back. The Times did confirm to Poynter that it had filed the complaint:
We did file a complaint with Twitter and it is our understanding that they have suspended this account for a violation of Twitter’s terms of service. We’re not seeking to disable the account however it is important to The Times that our copyright is protected and that it is clear to all users of Twitter that parody accounts or other unofficial Times accounts are not affiliated nor endorsed by The Times.
In the meantime, CUNY journalism professor Jeff Jarvis has taken it upon himself to pick up where @NYTOnIt left off.