The Robin Hood Of The Internet Wants To Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

But do you know what the biggest problem on the internet is? Let me illustrate it for you: on the left is the original tweet. But on the right, we have its viral copy, made by an account that copied another account, which in turn copied another account… That copied the original tweet. Without giving credit to the original.

In short, the biggest problem on the internet is STEALING OTHER PEOPLE’S STUFF.


 @daisyxthao/Twitter & @CommonWhiteGirls/Twitter

But it appears that finally, we have a sort of internet Robin Hood, as reported by INSIDER. His name is Samir Mezrahi and he runs the Twitter account going by the handle of Kale Salad. Mezrahi is keeping a close eye on the most popular social media accounts that “steal” tweets from others.

Chances are you probably follow some of these already: Common White Girl (with 8 million followers, it completely copied another account with 1 million followers), then Dory (2.2 million strong), The Fat Jewish on Instagram (10 million followers), and last but not least, F—Jerry (more than 12.5 million followers on Instagram). Some people call them “parody accounts” – but if you think about it, they aren’t actually parodying anything. They’re just finding stuff on the internet and making them their own.

So this is what Mezrahi, a.k.a. Robin Hood does: he finds the original tweet so that he can retweet it and give them a boost. It’s a small way to right a much bigger wrong. But it’s still something, especially when it comes from Mezrahi / Kale Salad. Then EVERYONE knows who made the original joke.

“For awhile, it was hard for people to find good stuff on Twitter,” Mezrahi told INSIDER. “But hopefully my account can do the same and directly give back to the people who created it.”

And here are some examples of original tweets and their copies:

This is so prevalent because it’s super easy to reproduce something digital. Most times it’s as easy as doing a copy-paste of the thing. Plus, the size of the internet is kind of getting in the way of giving credit where credit is due. Not to mention that practicaly nobody cares – or is even capable of finding out – who came up with a joke first.

Which is why Mezrahi decided to put in the effort – do the legwork for others, it can be said. Often times, he succeeds. Some of the most problematic content to track down are those reaction gifs though – but it’s mostly a problem due to Twitter’s lame search function.

“It’s part searching Twitter, using Tweetdeck to search, and different parameters for search,” Mezrahi explains.

Sometimes though, having a tweet stolen isn’t a big deal – and some people even see it as a service. Those popular “parody accounts” present a simple, centralized hub for access to the best jokes. Most of these accounts have since blocked Mezrahi, though, and sadly, a lot of people don’t care about giving credit to the person who spent time coming up with the joke.

But giving credit is important, because (besides being fair and the right thing to do) – it is also financially beneficial. The parody accounts that steal everybody’s jokes strike sponsorship deals with big brands and make a ton of money.

Here’s an example of more stealing:

But it’s not just limited to Twitter – it’s an internet thing. Instagram has its joke smugglers too, like for example the account known as The Fat Jew (real name Josh Ostrovsky). His account is mostly comprised of screenshots of other people’s tweets, the name of the original poster often cropped out.

It’s been a problem for almost a decade now, but it really escalated when CAA, a talent agency, made a contract with Ostrovsky. Rightfully unfair, man comedians came out publicly against him, accusing him of stealing their jokes.

Speaking to Vulture, Ostrovsky defended himself: “It was never my intention for anyone to think all of this was mine.” But even though he publicly promised to give credit to the original creators of the jokes, he hasn’t kept his word.

And nobody seems to give a damn – Ostrovsky is still making tons of money, doing modeling gigs, getting acting jobs, striking sponsorship deals…

Here’s how he got rich and famous on the Internet:

The fact remains that the attention and the money would’ve helped the original comedians much more. Sometimes all it takes is a moment – someone to see your hilarious post – to strike a deal, get a job offer, and turn your life around. But alas… As long as jokes get blatantly stolen, and the thieves get handsomely awarded for it, there’s no chance of any of that happening, is there?

At the same time though, the notion of the “stolen tweet” is kind of slippery. Some people couldn’t care less about being credited – they just enjoy the fact that they made something that was so good – that it had to be stolen. It’s a matter of pride.

“If you look at their profiles, all their friends are saying they’re famous,” Mezrahi says. “They’re saying, ‘Don’t forget me!’ Getting to those accounts is ‘making it’ for them.”

“One thing the internet’s taught me is there’s so many people with the same joke or the same idea,” Mezrahi added. “Someone might have tweeted it earlier, but someone else’s went viral. It’s hard to be like, ‘who was the original creator of it?’ when that happens.”

But lately Mezrahi is getting a lot of help – his followers have joined the effort and sometimes refer him to the original tweets. He also says they have formed a Slack team where they can coordinate better.

Previously, Mezrahi worked for BuzzFeed, honing their editorial strategy and social media system, and later he also managed the social media account for The Dodo, a viral site dedicated to animals. Later, thinking about how he can boost smaller Twitter users who still came up with great content, he came up with Kale Salad.

“I always liked viral memes and social news,” Mezrahi says. “We wanted a way to kind of amplify these things that go viral. So I started Kale Salad kind as a way to give to the creators and those random people who had these funny stories.”

Kale Salad is all about combatting those giant accounts that copy other people’s content. It turned out it’s also a good way to boost the original creators’ tweets.

“There was a tweet that some kid got Dominos pizza a couple months ago, and it had a couple hundred retweets.” Mezrahi said. “I saw it, and it went up to 100,000 retweets. I’ve always been a fan of great tweets.”

And with more than 144,000 followers of Kale Salad, this attempt to fix the internet seems to be working.

“The account has really become a place where things go viral from me retweeting it,” he says. “The followers are new and fresh and really into this kind of stuff. So the engagement is really high on what comes through my account.”

But Mezrahi really has a knack for making things go viral. Recently, he came up with a single song titled “A a a a a Very Good Song” and put it on iTunes. It’s actually a blank song that’s supposed to play first when you start your car, instead of blasting a random song from your iPod. It’s now a part of the Top 50 in iTunes’s charts.

But the future is a blur, as things are speeding up.

“I feel like if you had 50,000 retweets on something two years ago, you would go on ‘Ellen,'” Mezrahi explained. “And now you see something with 50,000 retweets every day all the time.”

It’s becoming very hard to distinguish between the culture, the people, and its stars, so to speak. The internet is beginning to resemble a lottery of being famous.

“It seems like more people are into the culture, are consuming the culture,” Mezrahi says. “Because of that, it’s becoming bigger.”

Well, it’s just like those dystopian sci-fi novels had warned us – everyone will get their guaranteed “5 minutes of fame.”

Source: thisisinsider

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