pla·gia·rism: the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work, as by not crediting the author (from Dictionary.com).
A frustrating thing happened to me not so long ago. I posted an original tweet and Facebook status and within minutes saw it copied by another person. However, there was no “RT” leading the tweet, no “Share” that led to the posting, no quotation marks around the words, nor credit within the post. This person had copied my exact original words and posted them as his/her own. When I asked this person why he/she did so, I received an, “It’s no big deal” type of response void of any apology and void of any effort to give proper credit.
While that incident bothered me, soon I saw it happen again and again and again, not just with me, but with many others as well.
When I think about those incidents, they still bother me because someone was willing to take my original words and claim them as their own.
But should it bother me?
With the advancement of social media, we’ve made it easy to post our thoughts, quotes, and happenings with the click of a mouse and push of a button. This also allows us to take the words of others and do anything with them that we wish.
So is this plagiarism or just social sharing?
According to its definition, it definitely seems like stealing i.e. plagiarism (or “poaching” as Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch would call it). When we take someone’s exact words and thoughts and claim them as our own, we become part of this unethical landslide. It probably won’t land anyone in jail, but the severity of the consequences should never be our motivation for doing what is right.
Twitter provides ways to retweet (RT) someone. Facebook allows you to “Share” things or even tag others. And there’s always the good ‘ole quotation marks as well.
There is no reason to steal (or “borrow” or “copy and paste”) someone’s status/tweet and claim it as your own, no matter if that person is a celebrity with 24 million followers or a friend from high school who has 347 friends. It’s unethical and in very poor taste.
What are your thoughts on the matter?
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