Home > Uncategorized > Is social media synonymous with plagiarism?

Is social media synonymous with plagiarism?

There seems to be another social media tool springing up every few weeks. There are content curation tools that churn out relevant articles and blurbs about the industry your brand lives in; third-party Twitter tools allow you to schedule tweets in bulk and hours ahead; more recently there are tweet aggregators that create custom newsletters based on the most tweeted articles amongst your networks.

All these elements of social media have a common goal: to create a “sphere of influence” with your brand at the epicenter. Your namesake is responsible for collecting these insights from influential bloggers and mainstream publications, making you the go-to resource and one-stop shop for anyone wanting a comprehensive view of industry trends and news worth knowing.

Does anyone else find something wrong with this model? If all a brand does is repurpose other brands’ original content and claim it as their own, does that alone make them worthy of the “thought leader” title? There’s a common expression that “stealing from one source is plagiarism, but stealing from multiple sources is research.” If a company’s entire social media strategy hinges on others to generate unique and relevant content, is this a sustainable marketing plan? Are you opening yourself more easily to competition? Is it technically even ethical? Does it matter?

I don’t have an answer for any of those questions. I mean only to point out that I am noticing a trend that recent tools in social media seem to be moving away from what the purpose of the medium was primarily (back in the day of web logs and TheFacebook.com): to provide a vehicle for the average consumer to voice their uncensored and unpolished, but uniquely their own, opinions to their Internet-surfing peers in real time. Fast forward a handful of years and it seems today:

  • Status updates from my friends about the awful weather appear alongside tweets from packaged good brands (Skittles, Cheerios, P&G, etc.) and major publications (NY Times, The Onion, Time Magazine, etc.);
  • People love the real-time, breaking news aspect of Twitter, but also don’t have time to be tweet-ready. More and more people seem to be turning to scheduled tweets, which defeats the purpose of 1) real time, and 2) conversation;
  • Everyone, from my bank to my next door neighbor, seems to have a “custom e-newsletter,” which is content aggregated from their Twitter stream.

I’m a huge proponent of social media, if for nothing else, because it is a medium that is continuously reinventing itself and evolving as technology changes–and it’s changing quickly. But is social media evolving into an anti-social form of communication?

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