In the past several days, a number of headers, profile pictures, and tweets have disappeared across the wide network of BTS fan Twitter accounts. The culprit, the account owners say, is a recent barrage of fake DMCA takedown notices. Outcry from fans resulted in #TwitterMaliciousDMCA trending worldwide on Wednesday night.
The owner of a fan account with over 233,000 followers, which posts videos, photos, and memes related to the South Korean band, claims that their original header and profile picture, as well as multiple tweets including their own screenshots and memes, have been taken down by the trolls over the past few weeks.
Per the owner’s screenshots, the attackers appear to have reposted the account’s header on a spoof website in a backdated post, then claimed to Twitter that the image was their own. The spoof websites appear to have been taken down as of this writing, but the account’s header remains suspended “in response to a report from the copyright holder.”
“Not gonna lie, this has been making me rather anxious,” the account owner tweeted.
The group claiming to be behind these attacks calls themselves Team Copyright, and purports to be based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The group’s Facebook page is full of screenshots indicating that its members are responsible for the various copyright takedowns. It’s also full of threatening and discriminatory posts — the group claims it will “destroy the toxic fanbase” and criticizes BTS for “promotion of atheism and homosexuality.”
A number of prominent BTS fan accounts, many of which have millions of followers, appear to have been hit by these notices. The profile pictures and headers of @bts_worldwide, @charts_k (which tracks the band’s positions on various charts), @btsvotingorg (which nudges followers to vote for the artists for music awards), @bts_trans (which shares English translations of the group’s social media posts), and @taehyungpics (which posts periodic pictures of BTS member V) are all in copyright limbo as of this writing.
Fans have scrambled to create second accounts, but those still don’t appear to be safe — tweets from a backup for Germany’s fan base are currently suspended due to a copyright claim, while the group’s primary account has replaced its header and footer with blank colors.
The attackers have even hit the band members a few times. Per screenshots widely shared among BTS fans, takedown notices resulted in the temporary removal of selfies from members RM and Suga that were posted from the band’s verified account over the summer, as well as the brief suspension of an official handle. (Both photos and the account have since been reinstated; Hybe, the label that manages BTS, has not responded to an inquiry about the reason behind their removals.)
Fans across Twitter have sprung to action, aggressively reporting the page to Facebook, tagging Twitter support in comments, and flooding Bangladesh’s minister of state for foreign affairs with tweets. Despite those efforts, Team Copyright’s page remains active as of this writing.