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Crooks Are Stealing Your Online Content!

You might be an online thief if you make it a habit of plagiarizing content that is not your own. And if you think plagiarism is something only high school and college kids do to get through that nasty term paper, think again.

It can happen to YOU.

It seems only too easy to copy a webpage’s contents, to rip off a visual element or to “forget” to cite your sources when sharing OPC (other people’s content).

In fact, many members of the Social Solutions Collective  have been victims of content thievery.

While I can’t speak on their behalf, I can tell you MY story. And in the interest of being polite and professional, I won’t name names.

As a “trust and verify” measure, I often set up Google Alerts of my online content. I use anything from keywords from our website, titles and phrases from blog posts, to online recommendations. One such recommendation I received on LinkedIn (previous to launching B Squared) got a ping back from Google Alerts.

A small investigation revealed a very interesting result: Someone with whom I used to be employed used MY LinkedIn recommendation from MY personal profile on LinkedIn to create a recommendation on their company website.

I was shocked, to say the least, that anyone would feel it was any sort of appropriate to use a recommendation left on my LI profile as their own, and worse, to take out any reference to my name and replace it with their company name. Shameful.

So what can you do if this happens to you?

1. First things first, verify that your content isn’t being plagiarized. You can do this by taking snippets of your work and setting up a Google Alert (for a video on setting up Google Alerts, CLICK HERE).

2. If you catch someone using your words without citing you as the source, or stealing your visuals, or using any of your trademarked materials, take screen shots of the violation or download/save the stolen work.

From here you can take a few courses of action:

1. Send a polite email to the offender explaining why you believe your content is being plagiarized – which has worked for several women in the Collective.

2. OR, you can file a complaint with Google under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by clicking HERE (*Note: you must be signed in to your Gmail account).

Google does not take the act of plagiarism lightly, and they typically respond quickly to well filled out reports by victims of online theft.

KissMetrics has a much more a robust how-to for setting up Google Alerts and filling out a form with the DMCA. Check it out here.

I’m sure MANY of you can share instances of online theft, so let’s hear ‘em!

See you in the social sphere!

 


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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and customer care agency. She's also the Co-host of The Marketing Companion podcast with Mark Schaefer, where they discuss jaw-dropping marketing trends. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout!
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Category: Best Practices, Content Curation, Online Plagiarism
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30 Comments. Leave new

  • Love this article Brooke! I too have seen this happen to people and had no idea how I would respond if it happened to me. Thanks for sharing all the great resources to use to track and attack this type of behaviour. It is nice to know that Google will help deal with these thieves as well.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Jen! Luckily there are measures people can take to help them if/when their content is plagiarized. Unfortunately, I think many people don’t even know it’s happening to them. Hopefully more people will start using alerts to help them monitor their words and work.

      Reply
  • Super helpful – thanks!
    I’ve come across some thieving myself (I often link to other posts on the Thill Blog and I get the notifications in the back end). These people really need to be stopped! If I allow someone to share my posts (like I do with B2C – the permission ends there)
    Carrie Keenan recently posted…The End of the Year as We Know ItMy Profile

    Reply
  • I try VERY hard to thank people, or mention them in a post that I create. But I admit to forgetting or dropping the ball sometimes. Bad Laurie. Thank you for the reminder!
    Laurie recently posted…2013 and BeyondMy Profile

    Reply
  • Let’s take it even one step further. If you get an “idea” from someone’s Facebook, Twitter or Google+ post, common courtesy, I think, dictates you should mention the source of inspiration. No, you’re not plagiarizing here, but you’re not crediting the source of your inspiration. Taking an AHA moment from someone you follow, without proper thanks, is just as bad in my book.

    Reply
    • Mallie that is a really good point! It is always best to credit someone where it belongs! It doesn’t hurt to put parenthesis in and just give a little shout out! Thank you for commenting!

      Reply
    • I agree, Mallie! How hard is it to say you’ve been inspired by someone? It doesn’t make what you have to say any less valuable or original! And it makes you look like a social super hero to include your ‘muse’!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Heather Myklegard
    January 2, 2013 4:38 PM

    I agree with Mallie. I posted today and went to return the favor on another person’s business page and she had posted the exact same question as I had just a couple minutes later. I think it is good to recognize others if you are going to quote their message or ask the exact same question as they did. Great blog Brooke.

    Reply
    • Thank you Heather! I agree, I think a shout out should be given if it’s not your original idea or if you got the muse from another page! So sorry that happened! How did you handle it?

      Reply
  • I’m so sorry that happened!! Unfortunately it happens – it happened to me too. Someone in another group I’m in pretty much copied my blog post except adding a few sentences of her own. When I contacted her she apologized and BLAMED IT ON HER VA! She then linked the article her VA said she took content from and it was NOTHING like mine. Can we say liar, liar about her VA? She was nice about it and apologized several times over, but still. Doing stealing like that is totally uncalled for and completely unprofessional.

    I do my best to cite and sources I use in my blog posts. Guess it comes from being married to an attorney 😉

    Reply
    • I remember when that happened, Mandy. I think bosses and managers are responsible for their employees, too. What does it say about a company that doesn’t have standards and best practices for sharing information…?

      Reply
    • I remember when that happened, Mandy. Maybe it was the VA, but owners and bosses are responsible for their employees, too. It says something that the blame game happened rather than a quick apology and taking down of your info. Not cool!

      Reply
  • This us such a problem! I once had a gal steal my blog posts word for word and when confronted, she said she would remedy by going back and crediting me. Too late! She already had comments congratulating her on such “thoughtful and insightful” posts. It took a while, but I was finally successful in getting them all removed. Another place it’s prevelant? Special reports and free giveaways! People will steal your content and think nothing of it. One of the problems in social media niche is everybody’s writing about the same stuff. Overlapping ideas are to be expected there. For example, who HASN’T written about social media manners?! Haha!

    Reply
    • That’s terrible, Martha. Word for word is just blatant – and that’s really what I’m going for with this post. We absolutely have the same thoughts and ideas with social media. Did I get my manners or Twitter thank you post from someone directly? Not that I remember … but the point is that I took those often-shared topics and wrote about them in my own voice, with my own spin and used my own experiences as examples. It’s not that hard to do! And I certainly don’t think it’s hard to know when you’re plagiarizing content – especially WORD FOR WORD!! :-/
      Thanks for sharing your own experiences … it sounds like this is a real problem.

      Reply
  • This is a really great post Brooke! I’m starting to get more into curation and have made a mental note to give credit where credit is due. Thanks for sharing the information about Google alerts. I’ll be setting those up as I plan to post more content this year!

    Reply
  • Great post. I plagiarism is bad juju. I’ve not done the google alerts thing, but I just might! I work hard to have a viewpoint and add value with my postings and it would bug the beejebus out of me to have it stolen! We all have our own views, no one needs to steal someone else’s!

    Reply
    • Topics will overlap – if you can give credit where credit is due, you should. Outright stealing someone’s stuff is a whooooole other thing! You should definitely test out Google Alerts – I love them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Jennifer G. Hanford
    January 3, 2013 1:18 AM

    What a great post, Brooke – and excellent tips for catching “thieves” in the act! I am rather lax with my own blog posts…but probably should start being a little more diligent since I represent my company as well as myself. Thanks for raising awareness…and let’s more hope people start giving credit where credit is due!

    Reply
  • Great post and good food for thought. I have alerts out, but I think I might need to update some… 🙂 (This is a great time of year for that!) I have found a few articles that sounded and looked like mine, but nothing as shocking as your and Mandy’s experience.

    I much rather have ‘ping backs’!

    Reply
  • Fantastic post, Brooke! I am so passionate about fighting plagiarism! One of our first blog articles had to do with fighting website plagiarism. Over the years, we have had our entire website copied many times – with our logo and company name in the text replaced by the perpetrators. Yes, word for word. One case that took some time to fight was from a company in Africa. It took a while and a lot of patience, but it was finally taken down.

    Thank you for posting this! Unfortunately, this continues to happen all too often!
    Robin Strohmaier recently posted…How to Set Goals for Your Blog and Achieve ThemMy Profile

    Reply
    • Thank you, Robin. I can’t believe what these shady people will do to look good. It says a lot about the nature and character of the people and businesses that partake in this kind of behavior, too. I’m glad you were able to resolve your issues! I’m still trying to decide how I want to best handle the perpetrator who plagiarized my recommendation. I have several good plans – just need to act on them!

      Reply
  • […] Though there isn’t specific language in FB’s ToS, using other people’s content,visual aids, or the taking of one’s ideas without giving credit IS a form of online plagiarism. To read more about your rights and what you can do if a dirty marketer steals your stuff, read this. […]

    Reply
  • […] written about plagiarism before, but it seems to be something that some people can’t get through their thick heads. I […]

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  • […] When it doubt, DON’T use it. You know … unless you have tons of money to spend on fines and don’t mind being labeled a CONTENT THIEF! […]

    Reply
  • […] When it doubt, DON’T use it. You know … unless you have tons of money to spend on fines and don’t mind being labeled a CONTENT THIEF! […]

    Reply

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