Barstool Sports is seen as valuable not because it is read by many people, but because of its social media accounts, which boast millions of followers. The way those accounts operate was scrutinized this week after comedian Miel Bredouw called them out for taking one of her videos and uploading onto their official Twitter page, thus passing it off as Barstool’s own content. Just a few days after Bredouw called the site out, it performed a mass culling of its posts on social media.
According to social media tracking site Social Blade, the Barstool Sports Twitter account deleted 60,368 tweets on March 7, over 70 percent of the account’s total tweets. A snapshot of the account from the internet archive taken on March 6 showed that it had sent over 84,000 tweets. Currently, the account’s total tweets sit at a little over 23,000. The company’s Instagram page has undergone a similar purge, deleting over 1,000 posts on March 7.
Given the scope and timing of these deletions, it’d make a lot of sense if they were connected to Bredouw’s complaint. These deletions could be an attempt to avoid further DMCA takedown notices like the one Bredouw filed against them. I reached out to Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini and Mike Kerns, head of digital for Barstool’s parent company, asking for an explanation for the deletions. They have not responded.
There’s nothing morally wrong with deleting social media posts, but the sheer number that have been nuked in this instance should tell you everything you need to know about what Barstool relied on to become successful. The great majority of people who interact with and consume the site on a daily basis do so on social media, and it built up that following in the same way reviled accounts like FuckJerry and Josh “The Fat Jew” Ostrovsky did: by reposting and often straight-up stealing memes, images, and videos from other sources. The people who work at Barstool like to talk big shit about how original and creative and authentic their company is, and how they never delete anything; those 60,000 scrubbed tweets and Instagram posts seem to indicate otherwise.