Over the past few years, social media whiz Joel Franco has built a loyal Miami following by posting viral videos, local breaking news, and Publix sub specials on Twitter. His account has more than 24,000 followers, and his posts regularly get thousands of retweets.
But Wednesday morning, Franco — a digital news writer for WSVN — woke up to an email stating his Twitter account had been suspended. According to the email, a company representing the copyright owners of La Macarena had lodged a complaint with the social media firm about an old tweet from Franco that included a video of a kid dancing to the early-'90s jam. That's right — his account was being suspended because of the Macarena.
The 2017 tweet, which Franco has since deleted, referenced a viral news story about a Saudi teen who was detained by police for "improper public behavior" after he was caught dancing the Macarena at a traffic light. (The song had been banned by the country for supposedly promoting drug use.) Franco simply shared a video and a link to the story.
The email from Twitter included a notice of violation from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), a group that represents the music industry. According to the letter, several other Twitter users apparently violated the Macarena copyright, including the newspaper the Telegraph, an Alaska radio station, and an Indonesian history account.
Because Franco's account had been suspended at least twice before for copyright violations, he was worried he might be permanently banned from Twitter. Thankfully, he knows someone who works at the company and was able to get his account restored this morning. But he fears there could be other tweets buried way back in his account that unwittingly violate copyright law.
"If... I wasn't fortunate enough to know somebody, I would have been gone," he says. "I think that’s unfortunate because it's kind of scary this might happen again."
Franco says he reached out to the IFPI but has not heard back yet. For now, he plans to promote himself more on other social media platforms, just in case he ever loses his Twitter account in the future.
"I've built my presence on Twitter, and it's a big part of who I am today and the career I have right now, all thanks to that platform," he says. "That’s another stream of income for me, so that would be a huge loss for me."
And he's back, luckily for all of us, to posting videos about chicken tender Pub subs:
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