The Impact of Social Media on Plagiarism

July 27th, 2020

Reading time about 13 min

Social media has become an integral part of the everyday life of millions of people around the globe. We follow news feed online, meet new people, gain knowledge, and read a lot of content. But have you ever thought that a high percentage of all information on the Web is plagiarized?  In this article, we will tell you why social media is increasingly strengthening this tendency.

What Is Plagiarism?

This notion started to be used in its current meaning back in the 17th century. Most likely, it comes from the Latin word “plagium”, which is translated as a “theft”. Thus, plagiarism is any work in the field of art or science, created by one person, but the authorship of which is deliberately hidden or attributed to a different person. The facts of plagiarism were revealed throughout the whole history of science and art. And at all times, plagiarists were disapproved of by the authors and society. However, neither moral grounds nor legal protection of copyright can stop this negative phenomenon. Moreover, the rapid development of social media and networks created a favorable environment for its growth.

The purpose of such illegal activity is usually the desire to obtain financial gain or public recognition. Accordingly, a plagiarist is a person who is appropriating authorship illegally, and most importantly, deliberately, that is, in fact, committing theft. And the theft of someone else’s property is nothing more than a crime and is strictly prosecuted by law.

Plagiarism and Education

With the advent of the Internet, plagiarism has become a serious problem in students’ writing assignments. Once on the Internet, certain information becomes the property of all. The compliance with copyright requirements is increasingly difficult in this case, and sometimes even impossible. As a result, the identification of the original author is complicated. The fullest survey in this respect was carried out by Dr. Donald McCabe and The International Center for Academic Integrity. During 2002 – 2015, they interviewed more than 70,000 students from 24 schools across the US. And the results are quite astonishing. 95% of the respondents admitted they cheated on the authorship of their works.

How Does Social Media Boost Plagiarism?

Traditionally, plagiarism is associated with literary works, but many violations occur in the daily process of content creation. Speaking about content plagiarism and content theft, the figures are really staggering. Google registered more than 75 million copyright takedown requests in 2016. And these notifications were related to writing, music, images, and movies. Today, the Internet is full of all kinds of information. We can find anything, just enter the right words in the search box. And it is very easy to copy information from one site and put it as your own. Why is that happening?

· Intentional plagiarism. A lot of content is created for commercial purposes. If the site contains an advertisement for the products, then the owner is interested to spread this information over the Web. Moreover, if an article with hidden advertising is broadcast from an independent source, then it will be even beneficial that the text has undergone a minimum of changes. Therefore, a lot of the information on the web is created precisely to be copied. Press releases, company news, announcements of product line updates, advertising cartoons – all this is information that marketing authors tend to see in the press and on news resource sites, and preferably unchanged.

· Lack of control. It is easy to steal content on social media as there is little accountability. There are no authorities that would monitor for correct citing of materials or impose some punishment for these actions. The maximum penalty the site can face is a lower ranking from Google. Many users interact online via mobile devices. They use VPN that works for iPhone and Android and makes it difficult to trace them. In other words, the majority of plagiarists are never caught. So society is still to develop a stricter mechanism to regulate the limits of the use of someone else’s content.

· Casual form of communication. Social networks firmly entered everybody’s life. Every day, millions of posts are being shared and copied without any reference to their authors. People who plagiarize do not even realize they do it. Text, video, and images go viral on the Internet. It can be often observed on Twitter or Facebook when the content is reposted hundreds of times and it is impossible to find its origin.

· Lack of credibility. More and more people join the online community every day. And they do not just read but post content without any protection. And other users do not find it necessary to state the author when reposting this information. Millions of people share ideas of others without even an effort to mention the source. But if someone’s idea is interesting enough to be quoted, it deserves to be cited as well.

How to Use Content Avoiding Plagiarism?

It is a natural desire to repeat something interesting you have read on the Internet. And there are many ways to do correctly without being blamed for stealing authorship.

· If you are using someone else’s text or picture, then highlight it: quotation marks, frame, italic. Different sciences use different methods of citation formatting, but, as a rule, much attention is paid to them everywhere.

· Be sure to give a link to the source. If it is a publication, then indicate the bibliographic link, if you use the Internet source, add the corresponding URL.

· If you are retelling, and not using the text verbatim, then it is enough to mention who is the author of the thoughts you referred to.

Key Takeaways

Many Internet users have the illusion that since the Web is available to everyone, then its content does not belong to anyone. And it is completely wrong. Publication on the Internet differs from publication in a journal only in the medium of information. In both cases, there is an author who has done a certain job to create work. The appropriation of someone else’s labor and the receipt of benefits from this is a violation of the law. Many publishing platforms are already using various applications for the detection of plagiarism. These programs efficiently analyze texts for duplication. In the active time of blogging, communicating, and posting on social media channels, everyone is responsible for creating authentic and unique content.

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