There is wide continuum from sharing when attribution seems inherent in the content itself, and no additional recognition is given, to passing off content as yours when it’s not. Content contribution often results in mis-attribution. There are subtle ways in which other people’s creations are used for personal gain at the expense of the creator, and most people who “take” content do not blatantly abuse copyright law. When does content sharing on social media constitute theft?
Huge numbers of people that don’t use attribution and work in the social media field. They should know better. Do I want my creative works shared with 100s of people having no clue I made them? No. It is especially distressing when the “shine” goes to a sharer who has a massive following based in part on creating uncertainty over what he did or did not create. Even amateur creative types typically don’t create just to make the world a better place. They deserve recognition.
I’ve looked closely at what some people on Google+ and Twitter are doing who may be impostors, and I don’t mean “bots,” but those with definite real personalities and interaction. They are the extreme, just as we find extremes with people who “re-write” hundreds of articles for blogs. The non-attributed content, combined with the subtle implication that the sharer is the creator, is part of a greater deceit pattern in some cases. How much truth is in an online profile?
One Google plus user, for example, says he’s a post-doc at Harvard, spends at least 40 hours a week on the social network, but never mentions anything about the university’s campus or his workplace. What a great, sharable work environment he has, especially since he contributes content related to the science lab where he says he works. He also posts incredible photos with tags and when people respond with congratulatory remarks, he sometimes thanks them without mentioning he had nothing to do with creation of the original work. He is one of the mostly widely circled Google Plus users.
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