Article by Danielle Wheelan
Copyright infringement can be a big deal. Just ask two of the most popular anonymous Twitter accounts at Drury University: DUcrushes and DruryFood. Since their creation, both accounts have been contacted by the university to change various components of their accounts to remove their affiliation with Drury.
According to Wendy Flanagan, vice president of marketing and communication at Drury, it’s important to adhere to the policies to protect the university’s reputation.
“Whether it’s your personal brand or reputation, or your university brand or reputation, everything you do and say reflects back on that entity,” said Flanagan.
Her comments elaborate on Drury’s social media policy which recognizes that social media can sometimes be tricky.
“Drury University recognizes that the open nature of social media, which is often used for both professional and personal purposes, can blur the line between a personal voice and an organization’s voice,” said the university policy.
The university’s social media policy also states you, as a content creator, are solely responsible for material you post on a personal site.
“Be mindful of the legal implications of what you post personally. You may be held personally liable, by any offended party, for what you post on your own site and the site of others. Drury University does not monitor personal websites but will, when made aware, address issues that violate established university policies.
The latest social media struggle happened last week, according to DUcrushes.
DUcrushes is an anonymous Twitter account under the username @DU_crushes_. Students may be more familiar with their previous username @DruryUniCrushes. The account has acquired 595 followers and has tweeted 1,154 times. It is a space where students can submit other student crushes and have their feelings shared across the Twitter platform.
According to DUcrushes, whose owners wish to remain anonymous, last week the Twitter account was notified that it was breaking copyright laws by using Drury’s name affiliation and logo. They were given three days to make the changes or the university would take “any or all remedies” to address the issue. The account owners are under the impression that a lawyer would become involved if not resolved.
“First, we had to change our Twitter handle and logo; then we thought we were in the clear,” said the account. “However, they then told us the form we have pinned on our page says, ‘Drury University,’ so that also had to be taken down or changed.”
According to DUcrushes, the account was created from boredom.
“We saw another account on Twitter about crushes from their school,” they said.
Their anonymous crushes Twitter account isn’t a new idea. A quick search on Google will list pages of Twitter accounts about crushes on universities across the country. Flanagan is familiar with the one from Drake University and hinted that this may have been the inspiration for the DUcrushes account.
To Flanagan, the issue lies in not only the un-approval of Drury graphics and intellectual property, but also the intended purpose of the social media account.
“When there are things that start to cross the line, and incorporate the use of the Drury logo that we don’t endorse, that’s when it becomes an issue,” she said.
The account understands the university’s concerns, even though they believe it may have been extreme to threaten legal action.
“We believe that if they think it is that big of a deal, then they can do whatever they want. We did use their logo and name, so we get it if they don’t want affiliation with an account that talks about big booties and hot athletes,” said DUcrushes.
They also encourage Twitter users to direct message the account if they believe content is questionable or wish to have tweets removed.
“We do our best to use our discretion on tweets, but sometimes what we find okay, others find offensive,” said DUcrushes. “But we hope people know that isn’t our goal.”
Another anonymous account at Drury feels similarly to DUcrushes.
DruryFood, whose username is @DruryCafCritic, is an anonymous Twitter account that retweets students’ comments about Drury’s Commons and CX restaurants. The account is relatively new, started in March 2017, but has already gained 220 followers and tweeted 135 times. It is student-ran and not affiliated with the institution.
The owner of DruryFood, who also wishes to remain anonymous, started the account because they felt there wasn’t consistency in the university’s meals. DruryFood mentioned that one day the mashed potatoes would be “bomb,” and then the next day students would be served “some questionable soup.”
“It was horrible,” said DruryFood. “It was around the time that DUcrushes was getting big and I thought that it could be cool to have that with food. If friends could tell you if the food sucks before you try it, we could all have each other’s backs.”
Almost immediately after its creation, DruryFood was contacted because the account was using the Drury logo. DruryFood removed the logo and replaced it with a screenshot of the message sent by the university. It is still currently the account’s profile picture.
The message, sent before Flanagan assumed her role with the university, states:
“We are kindly asking that you remove the Drury University logo from the @DruryCafCritic account. This is not a university sponsored account and does not follow our logo usage guidelines. The Drury logo is a registered service mark, and is protected by copyright laws. If you have any questions or special concerns about the use of the Drury University logo, please contact our office at 873-7228 or email [email protected] Thank you.”
Flanagan notes that, even though reviewing Drury’s restaurants is fair game, it would also be helpful for students to email or directly message the facilities via social media if they want their opinions heard.
“I think it’s getting easier for students to hide behind anonymity,” said Flanagan. “However, the good thing about Drury University is that the institution wants to hear about your opinions. Not all suggestions are implemented, but they are always welcomed.”
But good news for people who love anonymity. DUcrushes will be live until at least 2020, according to the account owners. As for DruryFood, the owner may be looking for a successor, preferably a freshman who eats a significant portion of their meals at the commons.
For more specifics, please visit the social media policy, under the Community Standards section of the university’s website.