Think Before You Pink 2022

This October marks 20 years of Breast Cancer Action’s Think Before You Pink campaign. In the past BCA has called out “pinkwashers” from all over the map. To mark 20 years BCA takes on the biggest monster of all, capitalism. The machine fueling much of what Breast Cancer Action works against.

From the BCA, “Rampant, unregulated capitalism both causes breast cancer and encourages profiteering from the disease.

The practices and tactics of bloated pink ribbon capitalism are designed to encourage unlimited profiteering, not the structural change solutions that will end the breast cancer crisis. Think Before You Pink’s 20-year legacy of calling out pinkwashing provides an invaluable inlet into identifying and disrupting deceptive marketing tactics and profit-driven campaigns that are implemented performatively only, in the name of social justice causes, but have one true motive: profit.

The prioritization of profit above all else – including public health – exacerbates health inequities and worsens health outcomes, including increasing our risk for breast cancer.

How Capitalism Encourages Profiteering from Breast Cancer

The industry tactics we’re exposing are the Manipulation of Media, Marketing, and Advertising, Disinformation and the Suppression of Scientific Evidence, and Political Influence and Interference.

The Manipulation of Media, Marketing, and Advertising

Cause marketers exploit the constituencies they claim to serve (such as people living with breast cancer), turning harsh human realities into a saleable commodity. Direct-to-consumer advertising by Big Pharma plays to the hopes and fears of ailing individuals by presenting biased, over-simplified information focused on possible outcomes while ignoring or downplaying the seriousness of side effects.

Disinformation and the Suppression of Scientific Evidence

For-profit corporations have been found to suppress scientific information that links their products to increased breast cancer risk, so that they can continue to grow their profits. Worse yet, the regulatory agencies that are tasked with monitoring these corporations often turn a blind eye to these practices as capitalism has metastasized to normalize profit as the ultimate goal, ignoring community safety, public health, and the right to live free of toxic environmental exposures.

Political Influence and Interference

Under capitalism in this country, corporate stakeholders can be appointed to regulatory agencies, and people from regulatory agencies often leave to become lobbyists for the corporate sector they once regulated. This “revolving door” practice is illegal in many countries but it thrives under capitalism. This often leads to “regulatory capture” which occurs when an agency that exists to serve public interest instead advances the commercial or political concerns of special interest groups within an industry.

Pink Ribbon Marketing Has Evolved

Now it’s bigger than pink post-its, pink ribbon perfume, and pink personal care products. Industry tactics have evolved. Pink ribbon marketing campaigns have become less blatant and their deceptive marketing strategies can be harder to spot.

But our Think Before You Pink® campaign has evolved as well. Think Before You Pink: A (R)Evolution doesn’t just call out one specific pink product. We’re calling out gross, profit-above-all-else capitalism as the common denominator throughout two decades of our Think Before You Pink® campaigns.

Twenty years ago we launched our first-ever Think Before You Pink® campaign “Who’s Really Cleaning Up?” directed at Eureka Vacuum’s pink ribbon cause-marketing campaign. Now, in our 20th anniversary campaign, we’ve evolved and we’re asking, “Who’s Really Capitalizing?” on the tactics employed across pink ribbon marketing culture, and how?

Pink ribbon marketing culture and pinkwashing have paved the way for the commodification of other social justice issues, as cause-marketing is running amok under capitalism. Whether it’s pinkwashing, greenwashing, or rainbow-washing, capitalist campaigns worship consumerism as the solution to the social justice causes with which we are grappling, and distract from true, structural change solutions.

The Revolution We’re Calling For

We’re exposing how uncontrolled capitalism causes breast cancer and encourages profiteering from the disease. The prioritization of profit above all else is responsible for exacerbating the climate crisis, the continued expansion of the fossil fuel industry creating toxic exposures across the fossil fuel continuum, the environmental racism causing that results in breast cancer disparities, and the ability of corporations to continue to poison our products with cancer-causing chemicals. The increase in breast cancer risk caused by each of these injustices is downplayed so that mega-nonprofits, corporations, executives, and shareholders can continue to line their pockets.

While corporations make billions off the disease, we have not seen nearly enough progress in breast cancer treatment, prevention, survival, and inequities.

Dismantling the systems that enable profit-driven pinkwashing calls for radical structural change, and it means working toward our organizational vision: a world in which people and communities thrive because they are healthy, liberated, and free from breast cancer.

Throughout Think Before You Pink: A (R)Evolution, join us to:

We’ll be releasing educational materials and resources throughout October so you can learn more about how rampant, late-stage capitalism encourages profiteering off of breast cancer.

Help spread the word on the consequences of pinkwashing and share our resources with your community, including our newly-revised Think Before You Pink® toolkit.

Take Action.
Attend our October member connector event, Radical Disruption Compassionate Resistance, and stay tuned to take action on our campaign!”

Download the campaign brief.

You can learn more about Breast Cancer Action here.

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Democracy Scorecard

As you’re hopefully aware, midterm elections are approaching. If you read my website regularly, we probably agree that politically things in the United States are not great. Now it is more important than ever to be an informed participant in all our elections, from local to national. There are many organizations that keep tabs on assorted political issues, and today I want to bring Common Cause to your attention.

Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. To that end, Common Cause released its 2022 “Democracy Scorecard,” a tracking resource with the positions of all members of Congress on campaign finance reform, ethics and transparency, and voting rights legislation. The 2022 Democracy Scorecard assesses U.S. Senators’ votes on and co-sponsorship of 15 pieces of legislation and other actions, including confirming Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, a nonpartisan investigation into the January 6 attack on our country, the DISCLOSE Act, and reforming the filibuster to pass voting rights. The 2022 Democracy Scorecard graded U.S. Representatives’ votes on and co-sponsorship of 18 pieces of legislation, including the impeachment of Donald Trump, creation of the nonpartisan January 6 Select Committee, the Protecting our Democracy Act, and the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act.

A few of the Scorecard highlights are that 101 members of Congress had a perfect score this year, a more than 70% increase over the number of members of Congress who had perfect scores (58) in 2020. Also, seven states have both U.S. Senators earning a perfect score: Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, and Vermont.

Want to see how representatives from your state scored? Just go to the Democracy Scorecard website and enter your address!

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Dominatrix on Trial

I know it will surprise no one familiar with the United States and its citizens that we are generally ignorant of what happens in other countries, even Canada, one of our closest neighbors that even has a shared language with us. This is why when I was offered a review copy of “Dominatrix on Trial: How a Canadian Dominatrix Fought the Law and Won” by Terri-Jean Bedford. I had no clue who Bedford was, and no idea about her role in legal history in Canada.

This is a riveting autobiography that let’s American readers learn a few things about our neighbors to north; Canadians, particularly the politicians, can be just as big of puritanical hypocrites as any United States citizen, and they’re justice system suffers from much the same horrible flaws as ours. Yes, Canada has some issues despite tighter gun laws and better healthcare coverage. Terri-Jean Bedford outlines her life from her beginnings in poverty, to successful dominatrix, to years of legal proceedings that ultimately changed prostitution laws in Canada.

And Bedford is a capable storyteller, she knows what the reader wants. Years of legal bureaucracy is recreated on the page to frustrating effect thanks to court transcriptions. All the while, interspersed, are stories about what it takes to be a dominatrix and first-hand accounts of her experiences with clients. All in all, it makes for a compelling page turner. Honestly, “Dominatrix on Trial” has all the makings for a docuseries, and the fact that one doesn’t exist based off the book is a genuine surprise. I will admit, due to the self-published nature of the original text in 2011, and the work of Riverdale Avenue Books for its release in 2022, “Dominatrix on Trial” suffers from a few confusing bits of formatting that could use cleaning up for future reprints, but it is not enough to take away from a great read.

If you’re looking for an eye-opening read, I cannot recommend “Dominatrix on Trial” by Terri-Jean Bedford enough.

You can learn more here.

Get your own copy here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

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Long time readers of The Magical Buffet know that I have been an ineffective advocate for Zimbabwe since 2008. At the time I was able to watch BBC World News on BBC America and that happened to be during one of many tumultuous times in the country. I wrote letters, A LOT of letters, hoping to hear back from any of my elected officials. I won’t bore you with all of that. I mention it at all to say, I care about Zimbabwe and have for quite a long time now considering that I’m a middle-aged white woman born and raised in middle America and has never met someone from Zimbabwe or traveled there.

I wish I could say it’s because I’m so well known for my advocacy for the country that PBS reached out to me about the upcoming broadcast debut of the documentary “President” for the POV series. I suspect that I just got lucky. Regardless, I was given the opportunity to watch the 2021 film “President”, which follows the turbulent 2018 presidential election in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is at a crossroads. After eight years of oppression under the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) regime, president Robert Mugabe is forcibly ousted from power in the military coup of November 2017. When Mugabe was removed from power, Zimbabwean military leaders promised they would not seize control for themselves, but rather ensure democracy in a national general election. In the context of an economic crisis, food shortages and political violence, the stakes could not be higher.

Nelson Chamisa, the new, young and charismatic leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance is challenging the old guard ZANU-PF represented by the acting president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is determined to remain in power. Chamisa, is a 40-year-old lawyer who fought against President Mugabe’s regime while he was a student activist. The more popular candidate, Chamisa draws enormous crowds while Mnangagwa is unable to fill a stadium after bussing in alleged supporters. When the election results come in, it is no surprise when Mnangagwa insists that he won, despite that the numbers never add up in his favor. When asked how sixteen counties could’ve possibly reported identical election results, the ZANU-PF’s lawyer argues that only a behavioral scientist could account for how such an amazing coincidence could occur.

Can a free, fair and transparent election that reflects the will of the people proceed?

“President” won an award at Sundance and is an Oscar shortlisted documentary, and I can see why. The film is riveting and tense. I believe a critic somewhere referred to it as a docu-thriller, and they’re not wrong, Hollywood WISHES they could write a thriller as intense as this real-life drama. The director (Camilla Nielsson) and her crew had a real knack for capturing emotion in real time, whether it was a slow blooming look of horror as a campaign leader for Chamisa watches the staff in their office rounded up by police, the eyes of the Chairperson for the Zimbabwe Election Commission glass over with tears just about to drop at a trial, or the look of shame on a judge at the presidential inauguration, the camera is there.

If you’re interested in politics, Zimbabwean or otherwise, care about democracy, or honestly, just love a good legal thriller, I cannot recommend “President” enough.

President makes its national broadcast premiere on POV on Monday, August 8, 2022 (check local listings) and is available to stream free until September 8, 2022 at, and the PBS Video app.

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Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

This month Rice University’s Religion and Public Life Program released a fascinating study on how different religious identities experience workplace discrimination. They drew primarily on interview data from a mixed-methods study that included a national population survey of 13,270 people as well as 194 in-depth interviews with Christians, Muslims, Jews, and nonreligious respondents. What did it show?

Nearly a third of all survey respondents from their subsample reported perceiving religious discrimination at some point in their working tenure. A larger proportion of Muslim (63 percent) and Jewish (52 percent) respondents reported religious discrimination compared with other religious groups. Additionally, perceptions of religious discrimination varied within Christian subgroups, with 36 percent of evangelical Protestants, 24 percent other Christian/other Protestants, and roughly 20 percent of Catholics and mainline Protestants each reporting religious discrimination. A little more than one quarter of all nonreligious respondents perceived religious discrimination in the workplace. It is also worth noting that respondents who perceived religious discrimination at work often reported other forms of discrimination tied to their social location. Of the 27 percent of people who reported experiencing religious discrimination, 24 percent reported experiencing one or more other forms of discrimination in the workplace. This was especially true for Muslim and Jewish respondents, of whom 60 percent and 44 percent reported experiencing other forms of discrimination, respectively.

The study discusses verbal microaggressions, stereotypes, social exclusion, othering, religious holidays, and religious symbols. All of it is interesting, but I can’t help but be drawn to the individual examples drawn from the interviews. They highlight the complicated nature of workplace discrimination, particularly with regards to religion.

One of the examples:
A white evangelical man who worked as a truck driver in Ohio described how he believed he was “let go” from a previous job after he requested not to work on Sunday mornings. Although he acknowledged this may have been because of scheduling needs, he also felt that those who made the decision “did not like me, because I was a Christian.” However, paradoxically, the same respondent shared later that he felt that Muslims in his current workplace “use their faith as a way—as a victim card, to get whatever they want,” including changes to shifts for religious reasons. Although one might expect the man to be sympathetic to Muslim requests for scheduling accommodation given his own experience, here he dismisses Muslims as being manipulative and questions their religious sincerity. He also describes how his current boss created a part-time position for him, so that he could also serve as a part-time pastor without losing regular income. However, in this case, he does not question meriting this treatment, drawing an implied distinction between himself and Muslim colleagues.

Another memorable example:
An African American mainline Protestant woman from Alabama reflected that early on in her work life, about 15 years ago, when she was an office manager of a department store, her coworkers would “insult” her by calling her “Holy Roller.” This incident seemed to be precipitated by the fact that she would be “turning my Christian music on to encourage myself and to encourage others.” The fact that her non-Christian colleagues did not appreciate this illustrates how this respondent may also have been an enactor of unwelcome behavior in the workplace.

I highly recommend reading the study. It provides some excellent viewpoints and some things to think about. You can read it here.

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Your State’s Gun Grade

I just received a press release from Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, with respect to their Annual Gun Law Scorecard. Each year, their attorneys track and analyze gun legislation in all 50 states, assigning laws and policies point values. States are ranked and given letter grades, which are then compared to the most recent gun death rates released by the CDC.


“In 2021, a number of state legislatures took the threat of gun violence seriously and passed 75 new laws in 27 states and Washington DC. In the latest edition of the Annual Gun Law Scorecard, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence graded and ranked each state on the strength of its gun laws, showing that states with stronger gun laws have lower gun death rates and save more lives.

New York received an A- due to its gun safety laws. In 2020, the last year for which data is available, 1,052 people died from firearm injuries in New York, representing a 35% increase in the gun death rate in the state over the previous year. The increase in gun deaths was primarily driven by increases in gun homicides, which comprised 53% of all gun deaths in the state in 2020. From 2019 to 2020, the gun homicide rate rose 75%. The number of firearm suicides remained roughly stable from 2019 to 2020, with 462 such deaths in 2020 and 455 such deaths in 2019. Among the states, New York saw the second largest overall gun death rate increase and the largest gun homicide rate increase.

In 2021, New York passed legislation allowing the gun industry to be held liable for irresponsible and illegal behavior, strengthened investments in community violence intervention programs, and banned the possession, manufacture, or sale of ghost guns. In order to improve its grade, New York should continue to strengthen investments in community violence intervention programs.

‘2021 was yet another year of crisis for our country. Too many communities had to reckon with the trauma and pain of surging gun violence, armed hate, and racial discrimination—all in the midst of the ongoing pandemic,’ said Robyn Thomas, executive director of Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. ‘What our Scorecard shows, year after year is that it is possible to take action to end this senseless violence. States with strong gun safety laws have fewer gun deaths—but illegal trafficking leaves residents of these states vulnerable. This progress must extend to every single state across the nation. We hope the Gun Law Scorecard will continue to serve as a resource for our elected officials who understand that getting a passing grade can be a matter of life and death.’

In 2020, over 45,000 people were killed by guns—a number of gun deaths not seen in decades. This sharp spike in gun deaths comes after several years of increasing gun deaths. The Annual Gun Law Scorecard highlights opportunities states have to reverse these devastating numbers. Strengthening background checks, implementing child access prevention laws, investing in community violence intervention programs, and passing extreme risk protection order laws are all policies that can reverse the growing gun death rate.

States with the strongest gun laws have continued taking significant steps to protect their residents from gun violence, including:

California (A): Enacted a law to improve efforts to identify gun dealers who engage in gun trafficking, committed $76 million for local community violence intervention and prevention programming, and made it easier for people who survive domestic abuse to obtain firearm-prohibiting protective orders.

New Jersey (A): Committed $10 million in funding for local community violence intervention and prevention programming.

New York (A-): Passed a first-of-its-kind law that allows people to sue gun dealers and manufacturers when they fail to act responsibly and created a state firearm violence research institute.

Maryland (A-): Enacted a law requiring background checks on long gun purchases and committed significant funding for local community violence intervention and prevention programing.

States with the lowest grades are most responsible for the troubling export of guns used for crimes in other states. These states also put their residents at risk by pushing dangerous policies like “Stand Your Ground,” which allows people to shoot first and ask questions later, and permitless carry, which allows untrained, unvetted people to carry hidden, loaded guns in public. Some of the worst legislation passed in the last year includes:

Iowa (F): Repealed its law requiring background checks on private sales of firearms and allowed people to carry concealed guns in public without safety training or a background check.

Missouri (F): Made law enforcement officers and agencies, public officials, and private individuals personally liable in civil court and subject to a $50,000 fine for enforcing federal gun laws.

Montana (F): Passed a law allowing guns on the campuses of colleges and universities that was later declared unconstitutional.

Visit the Annual Gun Law Scorecard at

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The King in Orange

Early on, author John Michael Greer makes sure you know that he speaks about magic following the definition provided by Dion Fortune, “Magic is the art and science causing changes in consciousness in accordance with will.” Knowing this makes it easier to see the intersection of magical influence and politics, the subject of Greer’s latest book, “The King in Orange: The Magical and Occult Roots of Political Power.” I feel like these days we’re all armchair politic pundits, I know I am. However, it takes a certain amount confidence to write a book on the divisive topic of politics and up the ante by adding magic to the mix. Since schools of magical thought are always known for being an eternal spring of agreeability (yes, sarcasm).

Greer does an excellent job explaining the primary division amongst Americans as being investment class, salary class, wage class, and welfare class. Your experience of America is greatly based on where you fall in these categories, with the investment and salary classes being catered to and the wage class and welfare class being left to fend for themselves. It is a more refined version of the “problems with the vanishing middle class” concern that politicians bandy about and that many Americans are actually experiencing. Everyone gets an opinion on why Trump won in 2016, and Greer’s is that the wage class was motivated by promises of bringing jobs back to the United States. A new generation Jim Carville’s, “It’s the economy stupid.” “The King in Orange” spends a great deal of time exploring Greer’s thoughts on the mundane reason for the Trump victory, which also include bring soldiers home and the wage class’s struggle with Obamacare.

Things get more interesting when Greer starts tracking the chaos magic of the 4Chans, and the reactionary workings of the magical resistance. “The King in Orange” does an excellent job comparing and contrasting not only the philosophies of these groups, but also their operational practices. There is much to be learned about magic, just from the author’s observations and explanations.

“The King in Orange” is a thought provoking look at the 2016 election through the prism of Greer’s political opinions and magical experience. Whether you agree 100% with his findings, you will still find yourself with much to consider.

You can learn more here.

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When the Church Goes to Market

As the pandemic continues to affect the global economy, Christian History magazine dedicates its latest issue to exploring how Christians have influenced economic life. In this issue, Christian History examines how, in past centuries, individuals and church leaders founded financial and trading institutions that are essential industries and taken for granted today. As contained in Biblical accounts, Christians found a higher purpose in the market and influenced complexities that define the world’s marketplace and global economies. (from their press release)

As always, I love the unique perspectives provided from Christian History, and I love that it is free to read! The latest issue has many interesting articles:

Brood of vipers or avenue for flourishing? Debt and lending in church history by Nathan Hitchcock

Misunderstood missionaries Colonial enablers or pioneers of social and economic reform? by Robert D. Woodberry

Self-serving vice or society-building virtue? The long-standing influence of Max Weber’s linking of Protestantism and capitalism by Kenneth J. Barnes

Christian History timeline: Market matters Some ways Christians have preached, thought about, shaped, critiqued, and participated in economic life throughout church history by the editors

Bringing profit to neighbors The church and economic theories from zero-sum to mutual benefit by Jordan J. Ballo

Friendly economics How Quakers in North Carolina used the marketplace to free enslaved people from bondage by Christina Hitchcock

What would Jesus do in business? The rise, struggles, and promise of the faith and work movement by David W. Miller

God’s kingdom Interviews with two scholars who study Christians and the Market by Denise Daniels, Brent Waters, and the editor

You can read the latest issue here.

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The Death Penalty: Cost And Public Opinion Support Biden’s Plan To End It

By David Dozier

A study in California revealed that the cost of capital punishment in the state has been over $4 billion since it was reinstated in 1978. Since California has executed 13 prisoners during that time, the cost per execution is more than $307 million. Other financial facts about the death penalty show capital cases in some states costing millions more than life imprisonment.

So, more people are asking: Is it worth it?

Cost is one factor people sometimes don’t consider in the debate over the death penalty. The complexity of seeking it and carrying out an execution is a long and expensive process. Many capital cases are appealed, and incarceration on death row can span 10, 15 or 20 or more years. And with capital punishment costs imposing a burden on state government budgets that are already stretched, it’s more cost-effective to commute death penalties to life imprisonment without parole.

But cost is just one reason that President-elect Joe Biden should work toward ending the death penalty in the U.S. As part of his criminal justice reform platform, he has pledged to abolish the federal death penalty and to give incentives to states to stop seeking death sentences. (Currently, capital punishment is authorized in 28 states.) Another reason to end the death penalty is its ties to racism. The Biden-Harris administration plans to address racism on many fronts.

Awareness of the killings of unarmed Black people by police has heightened the sensitivity of White Americans to racial injustice and prompted protests. The death penalty is targeted at persons of color: Black Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population – but 34% of persons executed since 1976.

Too often, the death penalty is a poor man’s punishment. District attorneys are more likely to go after poor defendants who are trying to fight for their lives with overworked and underpaid public defenders. DA’s sometimes put dirty cops above the law by refusing to prosecute police who kill unarmed persons of color. That’s because police unions and prison guard unions pump lots of money into DA political campaigns. But if a Black man kills a policeman, police and police unions will push DA’s to seek the death penalty.

A third reason the death penalty should be eliminated both in the U.S. and around the world is because it is cruel – a barbaric and sadistic violation of human rights. It is pure hypocrisy for a nation such as ours to view itself as a beacon for human rights while ranking seventh in the world for the number of executions we administer. Executions are a form of torture that violate the Eighth Amendment prohibiting the federal government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment.

The U.S. government under President Donald Trump in 2020 carried out the most federal executions ever in a single year. But under Biden, the pendulum should swing; the question is how much on a state level. Meantime, it’s good to see public opinion shifting toward the elimination of the death penalty. Using an unbiased question, a 2019 Gallup poll on capital punishment showed 60% of Americans favored life in prison for murder while only 36% preferred the death penalty.

Public support for the death penalty has dipped near a 48-year low, and at the same time there is a bipartisan movement in state legislatures and Congress to end it. Many politicians and ordinary Americans are bothered by executions of innocent people. For every nine prisoners executed, an innocent death row inmate is exonerated. DNA science and advances in law enforcement have cleared numerous death row inmates.

As Biden enters the White House, numerous Democratic lawmakers have already written to him about their objections to the death penalty, asking him to sign an executive order to eliminate federal executions and calling capital punishment unjust, racist and defective. And conservatives in several states have pushed back against the death penalty, saying it is too costly, inconsistent with conservatives’ opposition to abortion, subject to error, and not an effective deterrent.

The momentum of states toward abolishing the death penalty, and the strengthening bipartisan footing against it on state and federal levels, make Biden’s goal of ending capital punishment a stronger possibility. You can measure the cost of the death penalty in many ways – in terms of public policy and sheer, enormous dollars; in morality; and in racism. But any way you slice it, it comes out as wrong. The Biden Administration has a great opportunity to get it right.

About David Dozier:
David Dozier ( is the author of The California Killing Field and an internationally recognized expert and speaker on mass communication, public relations, and communication management. Professor emeritus in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University, Dozier is author or co-author of over 100 books, book chapters, articles, and scholarly papers, and his works have been cited by other scholars over 4,000 times. Among his numerous honors are: the 1990 Pathfinder Award from the Institute for Public Relations Research and Education for his contribution to original scholarly research in the field; in 2008, named Outstanding Educator by the Public Relations Society of America; in 2009, named a Research Fellow by the Institute for Public Relations; in 2014, recipient of the Norma B. Connelly Public Affairs Service Award “for exceptional meritorious service to the U.S. Navy Public Affairs.” Dozier received his doctorate in communication research from Stanford University.

Who Legally Owns Your Tweets

By Aron Solomon

I started thinking about this lost in a Twitter black hole about the future Trump Presidential Library. As the meme goes, people like to poke fun at him because while other presidents eventually have an important library of materials to memorialize their presidency, the outgoing 45th President of the United States has tweets.

A lot of them.

President Trump has tweeted over 30,000 times since becoming a candidate to become president in 2015. His account currently has just under 87 million followers. As you can imagine, this has taken a significant amount of time over his one term as president.

If you appreciate how social media works, a Twitter account with 87 million followers is a valuable digital asset. The value comes from two sources: the tweets themselves and the followers.

For any social medium – Twitter in this example – having close to 100 million people follow an account is absolutely massive. This means that close to 100 million people are regularly visiting your platform, in part, to view this person’s tweets.

So, if they’re coming to see what President Trump is saying on Twitter, the tweets themselves are a form of digital currency.

But who owns President Trump’s tweets, and, for that matter, who owns yours?

Like anything else you write, you can actually copyright your tweets.

A tweet is protected by copyright if:

1. The content is original to its author, meaning the expression cannot be copied from someone else, and it must possess at least a minimal amount of creativity. So if President Trump sends a tweet that lists the names of the 6 ideologically conservative justices who now sit on the Supreme Court, that doesn’t clear the creativity bar. Yes, if President Trump were to analyze from his perspective which of those judges are the best and worst justices and why, these opinions would clear the bar to allow this to be a copyrighted tweet.

2. The tweet contains something more than simply a name, single word, or short phrase, since these are not protected by copyright law. While some have complained that the 140 (now 280) character limit on a tweet dramatically limits how much original thought can be communicated in a tweet, it is now commonplace to string tweets together in a series, often known as a tweetstorm.

But the fundamental question remains as to whether you would own the copyright to your tweet or Twitter would.

Twitter’s Terms of Service state that as a user you:

…retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services.

What’s yours is yours — you own your Content (and your photos and videos are part of the Content)….

While you own the copyright, you are granting Twitter an irrevocable license to use your content, by making “it available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same.” This is the entire nature of how the service works: You tweet, someone likes and retweets your tweet, someone else sees it on their feed and retweets it as well. This is, when you think about it, not only Twitter granting an ability to other users to use your content, it’s essentially allowing them to share a kind of a transactional and temporary copyright.

Part of the notion behind copyright is that you are copyrighting something of value. Many skeptics still believe that Twitter is little more than an art project, a useless digital pool in which to wade away the hours.

Yet imagine if Mr. Trump left Twitter and went to a competitor, such as Parler. Parler, while founded in 2018, has only very recently begun to significantly grow. Parler differentiates itself from Twitter as being an online locus for free speech, read: right-wing people who want a pretty much unedited place to communicate often false and potentially dangerous theories and worldviews. Parler has been in the news a lot these past week, most recently for having received investment from the Mercer family to position the company for what they expect to be exponential growth.

Without regard to how one might feel about Parler, which has recently been publicly touted on live TV as the new Twitter by personalities such as Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, one feature that Parler has and Twitter doesn’t is the ability to give a financial “tip” to the person creating these micro-messages.

Let’s imagine that President Trump decided to leave Twitter for Parler and his followers migrated along with him Next imagine if he can motivate them to donate/”tip” on average only $1 per year per follower. With a natural rate of growth as the platform scales, that could quickly equate to a revenue stream for Mr. Trump of $100 million per year, not even counting how Parler could add value in many circles to the brand that is the Trump name.

Expect more and more dialogue around this issue in the coming months, especially as some pundits believe that Mr. Trump’s next endeavor might be founding a media company. Imagine the immediate value of his tweets, followers, and brand goodwill to this new company and whether any potential legal dispute could arise over who owns the intellectual property he has created to date on social media.

About Aron Solomon
Aron Solomon is the Senior Digital Strategist for and an Adjunct Professor at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University.

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