Zayn Malik and Calvin Harris, Swift's boyfriend, got into a scrap over one of Malik's tweets that seemed to throw some shade at the untouchable Swift.
The context: Malik's retweet of a since-deleted tweet from the account @femaletexts discussed the news Miley Cyrus shared in her recent Marie Claire interview that she would like to release her next album for free. The tweet placed Cyrus's words about not needing the money from the album alongside a quote about her Happy Hippie foundation, which has already had a tremendous charitable impact on homeless and LGBT youth, thus painting her as a hero.
Next to these snippets about Miley Cyrus's magnanimity, @femaletexts placed a quote from Taylor Swift's recent Time interview about her beef with Spotify, in which Swift argued there should be "an inherent value placed on art."
All in all: The tweet suggests that Swift is only in it for the money, while Cyrus is it for the people. Harris immediately jumped to Swift's defense.
He re-contextualized Swift's quote as a demonstration not of her own greed, but of her willingness to stand up for up-and-coming artists who need the returns and exposure Spotify provides.
Harsh. But Malik hit back harder, picking up on Harris' "teen choice awards" comment with an age joke of his own.
With one last "dickhead" for good measure.
Harris immediately began to backpedal, apologizing to Malik and saying his rage was directed more at the quote than the artist, and complimented his voice. Of course, Twitter began its invaluable commentary cycle.
It was a flash in the pan, but this Twitter flare-up may help bring the debate surrounding the economics of streaming back into the public conversation. That debate is far more complicated than a simple Taylor Swift soundbite, but perhaps the fans of the artists involved will take the time to figure out what they were really gnashing their teeth about.
It's up to them to dive into just how deep a mess the music industry actually is right now.