Readers of the New York Times on Saturday might have done a double-take, as they opened the paper only to see a tweet.
A full-page ad in Saturday’s New York Times featured only a single tweet that promoted the film Inside Llewyn Davis.
It’s nothing new for movie promotions to feature bare text (think “Amazing…” and “Thrill-ride!” on the back of Blu-ray cases), but the way this tweet was mocked up might have broken Twitter’s rules on using tweets in advertising.
— Kirstine Stewart (@kirstinestewart) January 4, 2014
The tweet comes from New York Times film critic A. O. Scott who had been tweeting about that movie – and many others – regularly.
Scott tweeted lightheartedly about his tweet being picked up for the ad, saying that he was only “kind of” asked permission, and telling @CBSFilms that they cannot use his tweet about the “endlessly sad and strange” track The Death of Queen Jane from the Llweyn Davis album. He also called the move “weird, and amusing,” and “very odd“.
The fact that the film studio might not have properly consulted Scott on the use of his tweet may be in violation of one of Twitter’s rules. And, perhaps more interestingly, the text of the tweet was actually altered to remove the first sentence. While the printed tweet only mentions the soundtrack, the full tweet began with the sentence “You all keep fighting about Wolf of Wall St. and Am Hustle.”:
You all keep fighting about Wolf of Wall St. and Am Hustle. I’m gonna listen to the Llewyn Davis album again. Fare thee well, my honeys.
— a. o. scott (@aoscott) December 31, 2013
As ReadWrite points out, Twitter’s rules about using tweets in advertising specifically state that a tweet may not be used “without explicit permission of the original content creator,” and must appear in full – i.e. cannot be edited unless it is for technical reasons.
The ad didn’t appear to take Scott’s words out of context, as he did, in fact, like the soundtrack. And it sounds like Scott was confused rather than upset that his tweet ended up in an ad, so this ad will probably not cause a huge controversy. Still, if this sparks a trend of businesses taking tweets and using them in their print, digital or other advertising, rules about privacy, honesty and user permissions will have to be more closely scrutinized.
(Newspapers image via Shutterstock)