How to Spot Content Theft on Social Media and Elsewhere

Content theft runs rampant on social media. StumbleUpon and Mixx are heavily targeted by sites which capitalize on stolen content. They use images and sometimes also text with no attribution to the original artist, photographer or writer. They make big bucks and they get away with it because nobody notices and 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.

Now I really hate that, 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 vote the content thieves up.

To make things worse I recently submitted a stolen content piece myself and made it popular on 3 social news sites without noticing on time. On the weekend I noticed that even one of social media’s most fervent power users, hdar3415 (He’s on Mixx and Digg mostly) had done it too. When I notified him of the stolen content piece he vote up 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. So I decided to set up a list of 10 signs that in many cases allow you to spot content theft on social media and elsewhere. In most cases at least 3 of them apply.

  1. Blog hosted on blogger.com/blogspot.com 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 submissions on social sites like Digg and Mixx as well as several sites with the same title or sentence
  8. Site submitted to 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

If you spot content which shows these signs of being stolen just don’t submit it or vote it up. Of course not all bloggers who use blogger.com are content thieves etc. but WordPress.com e.g. is much more strict in the case of content scraping or manual copying.

My next post will deal with how to find the original by the artist or author and to submit it instead. If your content has been stolen you might also want to read the 10 ways to fight back content thieves post.

As the Mixx experience has been considerably degraded by these content thieves I created a group to deal with that problem. Join me if you care for the stolen content issue. Nonetheless it’s a much bigger issue on StumbleUpon. Stolen content pieces get hundered of reviews there and nobody seems to notice or care.