BTS Twitter fan accounts targeted by the Troll Facebook group
BTS fans were inundated with copyright infringement notices that got their accounts going on Twitter – but the complaints weren’t coming from the chart-topping K-pop group. Instead, a Facebook group of trolls, which is based in Bangladesh and called itself “Team Copyright,” turned these nuisance claims into a tactic of censorship and harassment.
It was an elaborate scam that made mass reporting campaigns quaint; these self-proclaimed online vigilantes saved photos from BTS fan accounts, reposted them on their own websites or Flickr accounts, and changed the date to be before the original upload. They then reported the fan for ‘stealing’ their image in a fraudulent Twitter copyright claim, often resulting in their account being suspended or a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice being sent. .
Why did they do this? Well, as the group explained on their public Facebook page, it’s because the BTS fandom is “toxic” due to its support for the LGBTQ community and atheists. Previous articles on the page have shown that Team Copyright members also made ableist comments and targeted a sex worker.
“Many want to know why we attack them online. We have suspended their accounts because they support g / a / y and atheist fans, ”a Facebook post said on the Team Copyright page after the temporary deletion of an official BTS Twitter account. “We’re basically going to destroy the toxic fan base from here on out.”
In its Facebook group of more than 800 members, Team Copyright coordinated its complaints and celebrated its withdrawals. “Team Copyright always tries to keep cyberspace safe and beautiful,” proclaims the group’s description.
And it’s not just fan accounts – even BTS’s official Twitter account has been targeted. Selfies of BTS members Suga and RM have been removed of the platform after being reposted online by these trolls. The photos were later restored, after BuzzFeed News contacted Twitter. .
The trolls created several sites, including “dailybbcnews.com”, where they re-uploaded the selfies and claimed them as their own content.
After BuzzFeed News contacted Facebook about the group targeting people on social media, the Team Copyright page was removed.
Fans are frustrated, not least because some of the reported content is therefore clearly not owned by these bad actors.
“I think it’s pretty telling in itself that someone was able to claim my avatar and a photo of BTS holding their passport as theirs and, in the process, be able to successfully suspend the account,” said said @charts_k, whose fan has over a million subscribers and was suspended in October after a copyright claim by Team Copyright.
Twitter did not say whether the copyright claims are viewed and rated by people or simply by automation. Twitter declined to comment on BuzzFeed News for this story.
“I don’t know if Twitter has automated this process, but there should definitely be more oversight on this,” said the user behind @charts_k, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of doxing. “It shouldn’t be so easy to get hung up on baseless things like this. “
Another fan account with several hundred subscribers noticed the copyright claim scam and tweeted about it. He later suffered retaliation in a similar fashion, which resulted in his Twitter profile picture being deleted after a fraudulent copyright infringement claim.
“When I threw this thread against them, I knew full well that they would do something like that,” the owner of the fan account, who asked to remain anonymous, told BuzzFeed News. trolls.
The Team Copyright Facebook group appeared to consist mostly of profiles of men from Bangladesh. Members of the troll group used Facebook to pick their target and choose which BTS fan Twitter account they would harass and file fraudulent copyright claims, and brag about those they had been suspended.
The online harassment began on Facebook in September when a Bangladesh BTS fan page began receiving disturbing messages after misinformation went viral claiming BTS was anti-Muslim.
A Bangladeshi BTS fan account told BuzzFeed News that once the Team, Copyright group realized that BTS fans were primarily using Twitter, they moved their harassment there.
They added that there had been several small pages created on Facebook to stage similar harassment targeting BTS fans.
“We don’t tolerate bullying and harassment because it prevents people from feeling safe and respected on Facebook. We have removed this group and this page for violating our policies, ”said a spokesperson for Meta, the parent company of Facebook.
Another BTS fan whose Twitter content was removed after a fraudulent claim (they asked to remain anonymous for fear of doxing) said that as frustrating as it was, at least their experience made people aware of the harassment campaign.
“It’s still unfortunate that they were able to take them out, but I prefer to think outside that angle and see it more as ‘taking one for the team’,” the anonymous fan said. “The thread is gaining traction over time, and more people are getting to know some of the people behind this shenanigans.”
Reporting the abuse, however, can present real dangers to these fans. This is because the filing of a DMCA “Counter-Opinion” on Twitter requires filling out a form – with full name, home address, email address, and phone number – which is then sent to the person who reported them. Many accounts choose not to appeal so as not to pass their personal information on to their stalkers.
BuzzFeed News attempted to contact Team Copyright through the phone numbers listed in DMCA notices, but the calls were unsuccessful.
This isn’t the first time that DCMA removals have been militarized for dox users, with digital artists raising similar issues in May.
Dozens of accounts held by ARMYs, who are predominantly young people of color, have been targeted on the platform seemingly at random. An update account, BTS Daily Info, saw its Telegram channel spammed with porn after it started tweeting about the attacks on them.
Despite editing the photo itself, Australian BTS fan account @BTS_Aus was hit with a copyright strike over an image it had posted. Initially, the user feared that it was a real complaint from the label of the group.
“But then when I found out that this was another group of people targeting ARMY, I was frustrated – but also, sadly not surprised,” @BTS_Aus told BuzzFeed News. “The ARMY has been the target of malicious intent for years. But what they never remember is that we always come back stronger.
Many fans have taken proactive steps to protect their accounts, but still find themselves targeted by trolls. In a case that raises the eyebrows, @btsvotingorg changed its Twitter header image to solid yellow and has always been the subject of a copyright infringement claim.
“Copyright. A color. Hilarious, ”he tweeted in frustration.
Steffi Cao contributed to this report.