by | Feb 27, 2019 | Blog

Plagiarism: Too Easy to Happen, and Too Easy to Quickly Blow Up in Your Face

In today’s new media world it’s very tempting to want to go out there as quickly as possible, be “the first,” and grab attention. The problem is, in our rush and enthusiasm, we start browsing the Internet for ideas and inspirations, find a great idea, and then willfully, or inadvertently, modify it without crediting the sources used.

The Internet has created a duality we’ve not seen before when it comes to plagiarism. On one hand it provides free, easy and fast access to so many different works on every subject under the sun. At the same time, it also allows for free, easy and fast fact checking by everyone from the press to the people you had hoped would become your fans on social media. It’s easy to turn believers and followers to skeptics when they recognize something all-too familiar about that idea you are trying to pass off as your own.

Some recent cases in point:

Jerry Media, the team behind @F*ckJerry on Instagram. Earlier this year, two documentaries came out on the now-infamous Fyre Festival. As the press dug deeper, Jerry Media, the advertising firm responsible for promoting the festival, came under close scrutiny. It was discovered and widely reported that the company had gained some 14 million followers on Instagram by publishing copied and unattributed content. They were posting screenshots of tweets from professional comedians and outside content creators without any consent or providing proper credit. The uproar and backlash was swift and harsh. It lead to Elliot Tebele, the founder of the F*ckJerry to publish an apology on Medium, saying in part, “Effective immediately, we will no longer post content when we cannot identify the creator, and will require the original creator’s advanced consent before publishing their content to our followers.” That wasn’t good enough for the creators whose work had already been used. A new unflattering hashtag, #F*ckF*ckJerry was created in response. Comedians including Patton Oswalt and Amy Schumer are calling on writers to boycott the company and individuals to unfollow the account.

Rachel Hollis, mommy blogger, social media influencer, motivational speaker and best-selling author: Her book, “Girl, Wash Your Face” published last year, became a #1 New York Times best-seller. But, this year there have been several public accusations made against Hollis that “her” memes on Instagram seem to be copied or slightly modified versions of other writer’s work. In a January 31 report, BuzzFeed News looked into the accusations and uncovered six instances where inspirational quotes she attributed to herself were very similar to quotes from other published self-help gurus. BuzzFeed News also previewed a copy of Hollis’s upcoming sequel, “Girl, Stop Apologizing,” and found the book’s title and premise to be very similar to a 2016 book, “Hey Ladies, Stop Apologizing” by Maja Jovanovic.

On Reddit, the subject of Hollis’s alleged plagiarism became a large thread, with Redittors offering examples of how “Girl, Wash Your Face” also seems to contain content borrowed without attribution, including instances from the movie Clueless to quotes from famous sports legends.

One exasperated Redittor, Stinkycheese8001, reacted to the examples with an important and very spot-on message, saying, “This attitude is absolutely pervasive in the Instagram age. People seem to be under the impression that because it comes up in a Google search, it’s free for everyone to use. It drives me CRAZY. Using someone’s content without attribution is plagiarism.”

The difference maker? Time. When it comes right down to it, if you could pick one factor that differentiates between original work, attribution, and plagiarism, we would argue that all-important factor is time. Shortcuts are at best unprofessional and at worst will get you fired, sued, or ruin your reputation and your career. The bottom line is: Copy development takes time, effort and skill.

Social networking, blogging and email marketing are crucial ways to market your company in today’s virtual and technology driven society. Ensuring your ideas and messages are either original or correctly attributed is just as essential. At Ideal Solutions, we have the resources and expertise to make sure your copy hits all the right marks. Let us know how we can help.

NOTE: Sources for this include:


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