@NYTOnIt author Benjamin Kabak ‘zero percent interested in picking a fight’ with NYT

New York lawyer Benjamin Kabak’s @NYTOnIt Twitter account was reinstated Tuesday morning after a complaint from The New York Times took it offline overnight.

“I’m zero percent interested in picking a fight with the Times on this,” Kabak said when reached by telephone. He’s been writing the account, which pokes fun at New York Times trend stories, for about 18 months, and he received a notice two months ago that someone had filed a complaint about the parody, leading him to add the following sentence to his bio: “This is a parody account clearly not associated with any newspaper.” But his Twitter icon was still the Times’ distinctive “T,” albeit with a beret.

“It’s a parody,” Kabak said. “I believe that I have a defense to it.” Nonetheless he’s holding a contest to redesign his avatar in such a way to avoid further unpleasantness.

Kabak said he got an email from Twitter Monday night around 8:30 p.m. saying there’d been another complaint and asking him if he wanted the opportunity to fix the account; he replied immediately, he said, but Twitter didn’t respond before it suspended his account.

“I was mostly just sort of miffed at the Times for handling it the way they handled it,” he said. “I would have been happy to talk with them about it.” (Twitter spokesperson Jim Prosser tells Poynter in an email: “We don’t comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.”)

Kabak decided to out himself as the account’s author after the suspension. “I wasn’t really hiding,” he said. “It just seemed to be something I didn’t totally need to attach my name to.”

The account, he said, began as an inside joke and “sort of exploded from there” — it currently has more than 20,000 followers, 750 of whom signed up Tuesday morning.

He’ll keep tweeting and tweaking “as long as the Times keeps publishing stories about irony and people eating during hurricanes,” he said.

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