Who is SoFloAntonio, and why should we care?

Words by Michelle Andrews.

He’s got 55,000 Twitter followers.

130,000 Instagram followers.

1.9 million Facebook likes.

And a total of 3.1 million YouTube subscribers.

It’s estimated that SoFloAntonio (Antonio Lievano) earns approximately $30,000 – $120,000 a month from posting on social media alone. He describes himself as an ‘entrepreneur’, and believes that he is, “defined by [his] hard work and desire for success”.

Pretty impressive, right? Someone being able to make a living for themselves (and a pretty freaking cushy one, at that) off a platform like YouTube is no easy feat. Creating content that people enjoy is not only time-consuming, it takes a lot of persistence, creativity and passion. But it’s something that we all enjoy, online content never ceases to entertain us, give us an excuse to procrastinate from doing Uni work, or supply an endless string of memes like ‘Y u lyin’. So, Antonio Lievano is an inspiration, and we should all be thanking him… right?

Wrong. Dead wrong.

Antonio Lievano is a thief, and an effing obnoxious one at that.

Because not only does he fake his own prank videos (he has this really cute habit of getting his own friends to act as ‘strangers’ and then do stuff like rob them/spontaneously kiss them/shave off their hair), the majority of his uploads are stolen from other YouTubers.

His most popular YouTube channel, SoFloComedy, is almost entirely made up of other people’s videos. The only contribution Antonio actually makes is adding the same 5 second intro to the beginning of each clip, saying something super-profound-and-oh-so-important like ‘Sup guys, this is SoFlo comedy’. Yup! This guy literally steals an entire video, attaches his pathetic intro to the beginning, gives it a clicky/misleading title, and then sits back and watches the views (and dollar signs) tick over.

The worst thing? Antonio Lievano is profiting off other people’s hard work. He’s claiming  advertising revenue for content that he did not produce. And people continue to click onto ‘his’ videos and watch them, fuelling what is now a vicious cycle of intellectual property theft.

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We take for granted the content we consume online every single day. We watch everything from gaming videos, to makeup tutorials, to song covers and we don’t think about the artistic effort that goes into their creation. We read articles that pop up on our Facebook feeds, and are mostly oblivious to the great deal of time that is consumed researching and editing them.

So what happens when someone infringes the copyright restrictions of online content? They are stealing, plain and simple. It is not ‘flattery’. It is not harmless sharing. It is theft. When Antonio Lievano steals other peoples’ content, he is stealing not only their videos. He is stealing their credit, their profit, and their creativity.

I never really considered the implications of intellectual property theft until this month, when I experienced first-hand how it felt to have my work stolen and republished under another name.

I discovered a New Zealand-based blog (which I have chosen to not name) that had copied, word-for-word, multiple posts from The 20s Diary. The person in question deliberately blocked me on all forms of social media in an effort to conceal her theft. So, frustratingly, I couldn’t even contact her myself. Instead, I immediately took to my blog’s Facebook Page and called on you beautiful, gorgeous readers, to call her out for me.

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“If anything you should take it as a compliment” – HAHAHAHA K M8.

The posts were eventually removed. But the damage had already been done. My posts had already received their fair share of attention, they had their time in the limelight (some for two months) under another person’s name, and nobody was going to notice now that they had been quietly deleted.

It’s hard to explain how upsetting and frustrating it is to see someone claim credit for something you created, to accept compliments and praise that they are in no way deserving of.

And that’s exactly why we should not be okay with what Antonio Lievano is doing. We should care about intellectual property theft online. We need to stop watching his videos. We need to start pushing platforms like YouTube and Facebook to delete the accounts like his.

Once we do that, the people who created the content, and who deserve its credit and profit, will actually be rewarded.

Antonio Lievano, you are a disgrace.

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