Tyrese Gibson, the annoyingly handsome and charming singer and actor who will be furiously driving fast cars into theaters this Friday, is one of the most successful celebrities when it comes to using social media. In the last twelve months he has gained over ten million new followers on Twitter, beating out the likes of Channing Tatum, Justin Bieber, and One Direction in the celebrity [email protected] [email protected] Not even Kim Kardashian's attempt to break the Internet with her ass was enough to get her more followers than Gibson. One of the ways that Gibson has gone viral (or [email protected], if you prefer) is by using Facebook to post popular videos - like this one - directly on the platform; his fans then do the legwork, clicking and sharing on his behalf. "This is how Facebook's designers would prefer it: keep users on Facebook, rather than send them to external sites," explains The Verge's Chris Plante. "The choices are subtle, but effective. Just look at how Facebook displays native vs. YouTube videos: the former automatically play at full width in your newsfeed, getting more engagement and reaching a wider audience, whereas the latter display in tiny thumbnail and have to be clicked to expand and play. Gibson, like Shakira and his fellow Fast and the Furious stars, many of whom also rank amongst the fastest growing Facebook personalities, has found success by exploiting this system, posting videos directly onto the platform."
But here's the problem with that: Gibson and his fellow celebrities don't own the rights to the videos. Gibson is hosting someone else's content and using it to promote his brand, not theirs. For example, clicking the link beside one of his ripped videos brings you to the iTunes page for one of his albums. "Gibson's posts from the past months about his life and work range in view from the low thousands to a few million, but his flagrant theft of viral content brings in tens of millions of views and thousands of shares," helping him reach over 22 million followers on Twitter. Plante contrasts this sneaky strategy with that of one of the Internet's most popular cultural icons: George Takei. "George Takei, best known for the role of Sulu on the original Star Trek, has courted over 8 million Facebook fans by linking outwards to the sites and media he shares. Takei, who has been interviewed many times about his social media prowess, doesn't have the following of Gibson, but has no less used his considerable fan base to leverage his celebrity along with his fight for equality. The difference between Takei and Gibson may seem small or petty, but content ownership, tangible or digital, is vital, whether its protecting owners' livelihood or their privacy."
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