Twitter has banned the main account run by a pro-Trump meme-maker known as Carpe Donktum for repeated copyright violations. The account had more than 270,000 followers at the time of its suspension.
In a statement about the banning, Twitter said, “Per our copyright policy, we respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorized representative. The account was permanently suspended for repeated violations of this policy.”
This isn’t the first time Twitter has had to deal with Carpe Donktum’s messy memes; in fact, it’s kind of surprising the platform hasn’t taken this kind of action against the account before. Several of the account’s videos — including one shared by President Trump himself in February 2019 — have been removed after receiving DMCA takedown notices for copyright infringement. That's not going to stop the memes.
Who is Carpe Donktum? — The man behind the memes is a man named Logan Cook, a long-time Trump stan and controversial social media figure. He’s become familiar with disdainful reactions to his memes — remember that creepy Joe Biden video from last year? That’s Carpe Dunktum’s work.
Cook is tight with the White House; he was invited to last year’s Social Media Summit with his family, who all met with Trump in the Oval Office. He’s also a firm believer in an absolutist view of free speech.
“As far as I’m concerned, hate speech is a made-up word,” Cook says in one video, “You can’t cause violence with words.”
Ammunition for the censorship war — Conservatives in positions of power have taken notice of Carpe Donktum’s banning. The President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted about the suspension yesterday.
The President has been on a rampage against social media companies — especially Twitter — for weeks now. Even the U.S. Department of Justice is getting involved with a proposal of its own, seeking to strip internet companies of their federal protections.
Cook’s tweets have been removed from Twitter many times over for copyright infringement. That’s not censorship — it’s just the law. But already conservative voices are calling this an issue of free speech. Nonetheless, Cook’s banning is already being used as fuel for the Trump administration’s ongoing war against Twitter’s moderation practices.
This won’t stop the memes — A new copycat Carpe Donktum account appeared on Twitter yesterday with the same bio as the banned account. Cook called the account out as fake on his Instagram account, but plenty of Twitter users are falling for the trick; it’s already amassed more than 2,000 followers.
“This is my ALT account until Twitter gets their shit together and unbanns (sic) me,” the new account tweeted yesterday. “Censorship has no place in America. #CarpeDonktum”
Cook also keeps accounts on Instagram and Facebook. He currently has more than 22,000 followers on Instagram and more than 43,000 followers on Facebook. A quick search of either of these platforms shows plenty of re-posts, too.
It’s obvious that Carpe Donktum has found an ultra-conservative niche that works for him, leading to something close to infamy in the right-wing meme world. One pesky ban isn’t going to stop him from proliferating more memes. It’s likely the copycat account will do the same.
Unlike similar takedowns we've seen as of late, Carpe Donktum's is not an issue of free speech — it's simply a legal issue. Cook openly violated Twitter's copyright policies over and over again until the company finally grew tired of it.