How to Spot Content Theft on Social Media and Elsewhere

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Content theft runs rampant on social media. Sites like Pinterest and Tumblr are heavily targeted by sites that capitalize on stolen content. They use images and sometimes also text with no attribution to the

  • original artist
  • photographer
  • writer


Content thieves make big bucks and they get away with it because nobody notices

Everybody just votes them up due to the quality of the stolen content. In many cases these are duplicates found elsewhere on the same social site which were wildly successful before already.

As I’m an art lover for years now and I recognize many of the artists whose work has been stolen to be put on crappy “fun blogs” for advertising revenue and presented as “interesting images”. I will then add the original source in the comments or reviews but to no avail in most cases. It takes time to research the real source but people still share the stolen content in the meantime.

To make things worse I even shared a stolen content piece myself and made it popular on three social media sites without noticing on time. One weekend I noticed that even one of social media’s most fervent power users had done it too. When I notified him of the stolen content piece he had shared he replied

I had no way of knowing that.

That’s true, people are not ignorant, they just don’t notice that content is stolen. Thus I decided to set up a list of signs that in many cases allow you to spot content theft on social media and elsewhere. Usually at least three of them apply.

  1. Blog hosted on or another crappy free blog hosting platform
  2. Site full of ads above the fold, you have to scroll to see the actual content
  3. Large list of images from one source apparently
  4. No attribution to artist or source, or something like “Images found at Flickr” with no links
  5. Very broad description like “interesting images“, “fun stuff”, “cool art”
  6. No name of blog author or journalist to be found
  7. A Google search for the title or a sentence in the first paragraph will show several identical shares on social sites as well as several sites with the same title or sentence
  8. Site promoted on social media numerous times already, by the user or group of people, often users with no avatar or real identity
  9. Spelling errors in the description
  10. No context, seemingly random posts that have no real connection to each other on the blog

When you spot content which shows these signs of being stolen just don’t share it or vote it up.

Of course not all bloggers who use are content thieves etc. but e.g. is much more strict in the case of content scraping or manual copying.

In case your content has been stolen you might also want to read the 10 ways to fight back content thieves post.

Last updated: July 27th, 2015.