Toxic behavior on social media by Formula 1

Dr. ir Johannes Drooghaag
5 min readDec 18, 2021


What a thrilling F1 season 2021 has been! You might be very happy about the outcome, or very disappointed, but you have to admit that there hasn’t been a season that was this exciting and thrilling until the last lap of the season, right? The media coverage has been amazing, and it is difficult to find a social media network that is not providing insights, opinions, and highlights.

With that comes of course also the challenge that everything is done fair and especially the protection of copyrights and intellectual property is essential to secure revenue and ownership. It is easy to post something that does not belong to you, and with the immense popularity of F1, it is also attractive to do so for the sake of popularity on social media.

So, it is fully understandable that Formula 1 takes countermeasures to stop the flow of posts that infringe their copyrights and intellectual property. There are many ways of doing that, and with the enormous flow of social media posts every single day, the need for some level of automated detection is clear. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning could do wonders in the automatic detection of copyright infringements, and many organizations are already doing that successfully. Their core driver of success is that they combine technology to find potential infringements and have solid quality controls to validate the detected cases.

Formula 1 has opted for another “solution”. Through a service provider they have the media pool of Twitter scanned for possible infringements and have these reported to Twitter as copy infringements with the order to take down the disputed content without any form of quality control and validation. And that, according to their own statement, fully automated and without intervention or validation by a person. This although Twitter’s Copyright policy and DMCA process clearly state that the issuer is required to duly validate its claim prior to issuing a copyright infringement report.

The result of this is that Formula 1 authorizes their service provider to issue an unacceptable number of false copyright infringement claims. We are not talking about an error margin of 0.01%, not even about a single digit error margin. After seeing more than 100 DMCA notifications from people who have been harmed and harassed by these false claims, the lowest error margin was just under 15% and the highest error ratio in a single report was no less than 50%!

You read that right! A copyright infringement claim for 18 posts, of which 9 were false and later retracted! And for the remaining 9 posts where the claim was not retracted, we are not even sure if these claims were correct. It might as well mean that the owners of the accounts did not force the retraction of the false copyright infringement claim by Formula 1…

The consequences of these recurring false copyright infringement claims by Formula 1 are significant. The first consequence is that the Twitter account gets suspended. This means that the owner can no longer post, and their posts are no longer available. And the disputed post itself is withheld entirely until the process is concluded.

The owner of the account can undo the suspension by confirming the notification by Twitter and starting the counter claim process. In case you are impacted by this, I recommend that you are very patient and reserve a lot of time for this. You need to start with finding the counter claim process on the service provider website. There is no link in the notification and email you get. You have to figure that out yourself, and of course the service provider is not making it easy for you…

Let me help you out here. Go to and select Content Removal. You have to provide your name and email address, and of course enter details about the disputed post and a clear statement that this post does not infringe any copyrights. Do not expect a fast reply or resolution because that is not how they play this toxic game!

Now you need to go back to Twitter. Twitter does not hide anything and provides you with clear instructions how to proceed. All you have to do is go to and provide all necessary information, including the confirmation that you filed a counter claim with the service provider. You still need to be patient after this because the Formula 1 service provider apparently loves to play for time.

Twitter will now automatically issue a notification to the service provider, of which you get a copy by email, which informs them that they will have to issue a court order to cease and desist within 10 working days and if they don’t issue that order, Twitter will close the case and the claim will automatically be retracted. The Formula 1 service provider simply lets these 10 days pass by because they are aware that false copyright infringement claims don’t get far when trying to obtain a court order…

You might expect that Formula 1 or their service provider will evaluate all these counter claims and notifications by Twitter and take adequate measures to improve their flawed processes. But, based on enormous number of false claims we have seen so far, we tend to conclude that they don’t really care. Someone who used to work for an organization that used their services explained that as follows:

“The false positives in their detection do not bother them at all because they only measure and advertise the true positives.”

Reaching out the service provider and Formula 1 appears to confirm this. From denial of the existence of issues, to no response at all, to inappropriate “thank you for your feedback”, to claiming that no harm was done by a department that calls themselves customer service without providing any kind of customer service, and even threats from their service provider and legal department, the victims of their malicious actions get the full bandwidth of their toxic behavior!

Quite embarrassing for an organization that speaks of the importance of fans, and puts “UNLEASH YOUR POTENTIAL: DO THE RIGHT THING” on the first page of their code of conduct…!

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Dr. ir Johannes Drooghaag

Dad, consultant, coach, speaker, author. Mainly Cyber Security, leadership, responsible tech and organizational change.