Sean "Diddy" "Puff Daddy" "Poppa Diddy Pop" Combs just might be the world's most motivational man. He's the founder of the legendary Bad Boy Records, the machine that charged the Vote or Die movement back in the day, and the mind behind the various, wondrous installments of cult TV classic Making the Band. The list of Diddy's accomplishments can't stop, nor won't they stop. The hustler's spirit runs through the man's veins.
If you're not motivating me, praying for me, loving me, or trying to get money with me... You're a distraction.— Sean Diddy Combs (@diddy) September 10, 2017
Seeing as Diddy is Mr. Inspiration himself, I wasn't surprised to see motivational tweets from him pop up in my Twitter timeline recently. But lately, they all seem to be going viral—like the one above. My initial thought when I see these tweets is always, “Damn, I needed to hear that.” But almost immediately after, I have a second thought: “Did he actually come up with this tweet himself?”
After pulling a few of Diddy's most recent motivational tweets, I searched those phrases and found that they had all made a previous appearance on Twitter. Some of them years ago, and some of them, many times over. For example, the above tweet first made its debut in 2015, if not earlier:
If you're not motivating me, praying for me, loving me, or trying to get money with me, then honestly you're just a distraction— Laurie (@lauuurrrrr) December 11, 2015
This happens literally all the time. Tweets get jacked left and right in these digital streets, whether they're motivational, insightful, or just plain funny. Here's a tweet from November of last year about our impending doom:
I'm not calling him "president" of anything. His mama named him Donald, Imma call him Donald pic.twitter.com/CgQqvkf5jB— Kar L. Stine (@karyewest) November 9, 2016
Which was "borrowed" around the time Trump was inaugurated this year:
I'm not calling him "president" of anything. His momma named him Donald, I'ma call him Donald pic.twitter.com/926wEK3Zrs— Kevin Bush (@selfcritics) January 11, 2017
People peeped game, and a search with that specific phrase shows that tweet has been copied many times since.
The entire thing lol ain't even try and switch words up or nothing. Took the whole wikipedia page 😂— Kar L. Stine (@karyewest) January 12, 2017
I retweet all the viral tweets the meme accounts steal.— Kale Salad (@kalesalad) December 30, 2016
Follow me for the source.
Please RT this for awareness since I do not tweet myself
When I spoke with Mezrahi on the phone, he explained the inspiration behind @KaleSalad. "I’ve really been a huge fan of great tweets and I wanted a way to amplify all of them and make them blow up, and this concept came to me," Mezrahi said. "So I can help reward the creators. I think for a long time, the meme accounts were the way people found out what was happening on Twitter." According to Mezrahi, @KaleSalad gained 50,000 followers within the first month of its creation. (At the time of this writing, the account now boasts 116,000 followers.)
Mezrahi says he draws from various sources to verify authentic tweets, including Twitter lists, Twitter search and Google search, and tips from people who DM or tag Mezrahi with stolen posts. Mezrahi says the account has turned into a kind of glo-up service for Twitter users. "I’m like, the validator," he said. "I bring redemption to their stolen tweets. People will be like, ‘Oh shit—your tweet made Kale Salad! You made it!’ It’s become a stamp of approval."
But as any socially savvy person knows, you don't need a boost for a tweet to go brazy. Floridian @AyanaLage spoke with me about a recent tweet of hers that went viral organically:
Pastor: "Raise your hand if you lost power."— Ayana Lage (Stewart) (@AyanaLage) September 17, 2017
Pastor: "None of you lost power! You lost electricity. Your power is in Je-"
“It actually happened, which is the funny part," she said, explaining the situation presented in the tweet. "Sunday night was the first time I had been to church in a little bit, because of Hurricane Irma. My husband and I lost power for five days. Our pastor, who’s very sweet and very awesome, but also a little bit cheesy, opened with that. I was just like, 'Are you serious?'"
@AyanaLage said she really only created the post for her own circle. "I knew that a ton of my followers had also lost power," she said. "So I was like, ‘We’re all in this together.’ That was kind of my thought process. ... But I think it really resonated with Black Twitter. I’ve had a lot of people say, “Black pastors be like,” which I laughed at, because I was raised in a black church. But my husband and I are currently at a church where most of the pastoral staff isn’t black; the pastor who actually shared this was white. That’s something that was really funny for me."
While @AyanaLage said she wasn't aware of anyone else copying the tweet, it did make an appearance elsewhere. "My sister texted me because she saw the tweet on Instagram without credit on some random account," she said. "I’m sure someone will eventually rewrite it, if they haven’t already. If it does happen, I would probably be more amused than anything. I’m not someone who wants a bunch of followers on Twitter necessarily. If someone wanted to copy it and try their luck, I’d be totally fine with it. It’s just Twitter."
@DragonflyJonez and @LaJethroJenkins, hosts of the podcast Jenkins & Jonez, both have large followings on Twitter. (Full disclosure: They're also long-time internet homies.) In a DM conversation, they both said they've seen their tweets go viral frequently.
Kanye was heated. How mad do you have to be to tell someone "17th of all..." I ain't never been that mad in my life.— Larry Beyince (@DragonflyJonez) January 27, 2016
"I think my most viral tweet was when Kanye went at Wiz on Twitter and ran off a list. ... I've tweeted way funnier shit but that one blew up because it was topical. I think that's the key to a viral tweet: it has to be a perfect storm of funny or insightful commentary on some shit that a lot of people are invested in."
@LaJethroJenkins had a recent example of a pilfered post:
Kevin Hart just had to further humiliate his wife by apologizing to a bunch of strangers who aren't affected by his infidelity. Fuck fame.— OMG, LaJethro (@LaJethroJenkins) September 17, 2017
Kevin Hart just had to further humiliate his wife by apologizing to a bunch of strangers who aren't affected by his infidelity. Fuck fame.— Goddess (@callhernikole) September 17, 2017
Kevin Hart just had to further humiliate his wife by apologizing to a bunch of strangers who aren't affected by his infidelity. Fuck fame.— ㅤ ⵝⵊ ㅤ (@XIBASH) September 17, 2017
"Someone just copied my tweet about Kevin Hart," he DMed. "Lame ass tweet to copy. I have much better tweets they could have stolen."
While they've both had their posts swiped by others on numerous occasions, at this point, they're not sweating it. "I couldn't care less," @DragonflyJonez said. "I often delete my tweets that go viral now after a while because it brings a lot of dumb muthafuckas to your mentions and my nerves are too bad for that shit. My old ass ain't got the time."
"I probably should say something like, 'Stop stealing my intellectual property' or whatever," @LaJethroJenkins added. "But honestly, I don't care at all. Usually, someone will hip me to said stolen tweet and my default response is, 'The game's the game.' I do wish I was credited for nicknaming John Wall 'Gang Sign John Wall.'"
@pettyblackboy is also a part of the stolen-tweet club. Via DM, he said he guesstimates his borrowed tweets go viral for someone else once or twice a month.
She is giving you LOOKS, she is giving you STRIDES, she is giving you PUMPS, this girl is WALKING https://t.co/aQqiShVqp5— Shahem . (@pettyblackboy) September 3, 2017
She is giving you LOOKS, she is giving you STRIDES, she is giving you PUMPS, this girl is WALKING pic.twitter.com/A7IOAmLdUr— Common White Girl (@girlhoodposts) September 4, 2017
“I usually call them out,” he said. “A few big pages blocked me.” When I asked if he had any words for people shamelessly stealing tweets outchea, he had just a few questions: "Are you ok? You spend your life copying others. Do you even like you?"
Beyoncé: *uses iPhone X facial recognition*— brendon skolat (@brendonSkolat) September 12, 2017
iPhone X: pic.twitter.com/8ao9moveCd
I hopped in @brendonSkolat's DMs to find out more about his wildly popular post. "Literally everyone was talking about the iPhone X, and I suddenly remembered one of Tiffany Pollard's iconic GIFs about Beyoncé that fit perfectly with what I wanted to tweet about the new iPhone's facial recognition. ... Honestly, if I were the iPhone, I would be shocked to [see] Beyoncé too LOL."
But a quick Twitter search with the key words "Beyonce" and "iPhone X" revealed user @omfgregory tweeted a variation of that post almost two hours before:
When I brought this up to @brendonSkolat, he said he was completely unaware. "No, I honestly haven't seen any tweet about Beyoncé and iPhone X before I did mine," he said.
Sometimes, great minds just think alike.