Well, this escalated then de-escalated quickly. But expand the lens and it's a story with no end in sight.
Then Weber wasn't suspended at all.
Weber's hazy saga illustrates the murkiness Twitter still sometimes struggles to navigate around sports, which drive tremendous conversation and engagement on the site. Social media promotes sharing by nature, but some sports rights holders hawkishly look to protect their investments. When rules do and don't apply becomes unclear. Users get caught in the middle.
After Weber was suspended, he wrote about his experience in a LinkedIn post entitled, "How a GIF of Aly Raisman's Floor Routine Got Me Permanently Banned From Twitter". The LinkedIn post gained traction. It was included in the "Editor's Picks" section of the site. It was ironically enough retweeted more than 120 times (including by me) on Twitter after Weber restored an old account to share his tale.
Weber published the LinkedIn post Wednesday. By Thursday, the account that had been permanently banned was restored by Twitter.
"After further review of the application of our policies, we have unsuspended your account," read Weber's message from Twitter.
But to him, the timing was suspicious.
What makes Twitter great for sports fans
Weber told Mashable by email that "it was totally about the message spreading on Twitter and LinkedIn" as people began to talk about his post online.
"And what if my LinkedIn post wouldn't have made so much news?" Weber said via email. "I would have been shit out of luck. That sucks."
A Twitter spokesperson declined to provide Mashable any specifics about what sort of process led Weber's account to go from permanently suspended to restored.
The opener to Raisman's floor routine was nothing short of stunning. It was shared far and wide on Twitter. Some users, like Weber, uploaded files themselves to the social network. Others, like me, simply tweeted links of videos or GIFs already uploaded by others.
It's moments like this that make Twitter such a home for so many sports fans times when we can all revel in something incredible together, sharing the moment with friends while having new layers discovered and pointed out by strangers.
Some American sports leagues most notably the NBA have used a relaxed approach to leverage this to their advantage. The NBA's thought, which I happen to share, seems to be that more exposure for events and players lifts the entire league and helps promote the NBA as a whole in a way that does more good than bad.
Other sports bodies, the IOC being perhaps the most Gollum-like, take a different approach: This is our content, so you better keep your hands off of it.
If that's what a sports body says, Twitter typically abides. The company recently struck deals to become a streaming destination for live college sports and NFL games. Weber's original admonishment for the Raisman GIF included a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice from the IOC itself.
Weber is certainly not the only sports fan to be suspended by Twitter for posting Olympics content. A Venezuelan blogger who used the handle @Lubrio and had more than 40,000 followers, for example, had his account suspended and it hasn't been restored.
But in some ways, Weber was the wrong person for Twitter to mess with.
The user strikes back
Weber founded a site about college sports, called LostLettermen.com, in 2009 and sold it to entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk six years later. He currently does freelance writing for the sports outlets Athlon and Awful Announcing.
In other words, he was savvy enough to appeal his case in the public court of LinkedIn, and connected enough for his post there to gain attention and traction.
Weber openly admits he's posted content he doesn't own to Twitter before. But that's the thing: It's something pretty much all of us sports fans on Twitter do at one time or another. So where do you draw the line? Michael Phelps' pre-swim face, for example, became a viral hoot but photo and video shared of that moment on Twitter can still be easily found.
"I had read that the IOC was banning the press from using GIFs but I didn't see how that applied to me," Weber wrote in his original LinkedIn post about the situation. "Sure, I didn't have the rights to any footage at the Olympics just like countless blogs and users don't have rights to the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA footage that they create GIFs out of and profit from every day.
"But I figured the worst thing that would happen is the GIF would be deleted from my account, as Twitter often does inthese situations."
Perhaps, as Weber suggested via email, the sports rights-holders like the IOC see this situation as somewhat analogous to how record labels saw Napster users some 15 years ago. Perhaps sending DMCA takedown notices to the few is meant to discourage the many.
If so, it's a tremendous blunder.
The big and the small of it
Napster enabled users to download entire songs and albums legitimately lowering their incentive to go buy the actual items. Sports GIFs and Vines, conversely, are greatly missed when they're forced to be taken down but they don't replace anything in the same way downloading a song into your possession does.
Such fleeting bits of media and the conversations they spark are just one part of the bubbling cauldron that is sports fandom. If sports bodies can't figure out how to monetize certain parts of that stew without diluting the whole thing, that's on them.
For his part, Weber who has nearly 100,000 followers and has posted nearly 70,000 tweets said the entire episode "does give me pause about using Twitter." By Thursday afternoon, though, he was back to sharing sports news and promoting the debut of a new podcast on the network.
But the bigger issue isn't going away soon.
"The problem is that videos and GIFs are such a gray area," he said via email. "99 percent of ones shared on Twitter are done so without copyright permission but no one cares. So who knows what will be the next arbitrary thing they decide to crack down on?"