Plagiarism in the online world

I was going through Twitter the other week and came across a tweet which was a link to a blog post entitled ‘Is Social Media Creating a Plagiarism Problem’(Sukhova, 2012). I thought that it was an interesting subject and I posted it on the INF2506 FaceBook page. Throughout this course I had been developing a growing awareness as to the lack of academic standard referencing in many of the posts and articles that I had read throughout the course.

My post on the FaceBook page saw an interesting on-line discussion between myself and another student about plagiarism online. Mica challenged the position held by the author of the blog post and our discussion centred around the notion of plagiarism on the net. My key point was that referencing is still relevant in on-line posts and this would help plagiarism to some extent. As an aside, I have had a number of discussions about topics I have posted with Mica. These discussions have been very valuable as it has required me to think about the post and consider arguments for and against. From an educational perspective this has greatly enhanced my learning in this subject.

Getting back to the subject at hand, a few days later I read a post by one of my fellow students entitled ‘The challenge of finding authentic information in a socially networked world’ (Thomas, 2012). In this post she cites Wittenberg who discusses in her post how the credibility of information is established in this age of the internet. Thomas also mentions an interesting situation in which the author of a document often cited as background reading by researchers, drew heavily on Wikipedia as an information source. What is the ‘so what’ of this? In this age of knowledge management where there is such a large volume of information being processed I believe that authenticity and accuracy of information is vitally important. I can see that this has an impact for those organisations who deal in the distribution of knowledge. I imagine that most organisations would like to be seen as reputable and professional. How is their reputation effected by the quality of the information they deal with? How do they ensure the information they pass onto clients is authentic and accurate. I did a search on Google to see what I could find in relation to authenticity and social media policy. There did not appear to be much information related to this. I did come across a blog post by Schaefer (2012) who linked to a document which he thought might be the first policy on authenticity. The online document was created by the CEO of Handshake Media (Clelland, 2012) and relates to authenticity of content that they post. It was interesting to note that as the company classified the blog as a ‘business news and public relations blog that accepts advertising’ that is was subject to the US Federal Trade Commission guides on endorsements and truth in advertising. It would be interesting to see if there were blogs that were deemed to be Australian were subject to similar guidelines. This then raises the question of what is the nationality of a blog deemed to be. Is it where the author resides or the country in which the site is hosted on a server? Are there other rules which would apply to blogs that do not accept advertising with respect to the authenticity of their content?

The importance of this issue was reinforced to me by an article in the Age on Saturday September 29. The article by O’Malley (2012) was on the way in which the different television news programmes in the US displayed their political biases when it came to the reporting of events in the US Presidential campaign. He also describes how data being used in these campaigns can also be skewed and how you can even select polls that will be weighted towards one candidate or another. This situation has been further complicated by the rise of people starting their own Twitter feeds on the campaigns. With information being manipulated to shape viewers perceptions of the situation, the ability to sift the authentic and accurate information from the rest becomes incredibly important.

I am now left with more questions than when I started. I will need to ponder and reflect on what I understand authentic information to be and how this authenticity is established.


Clelland, A. (2012). Handshake Media, Incorporated’s Social Media Authenticity Policy – Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials  Retrieved 1/10/2012, from

O’Malley, N. (2012). Election media caught in bipolar trap, The Age.

Schaefer, M. (2012, 1/10/2012). The World’s First “Authenticity Policy?”.  Retrieved from

Sukhova, E. (2012, 26/9/12). Is Social Media Creating a Plagiarism Problem (+ Infographic).  Retrieved from

Thomas, C. (2012). The challenge of finding authentic information in a socially networked world.  Retrieved from


~ by dassocmed on September 30, 2012.

One Response to “Plagiarism in the online world”

  1. […] one of my last posts entitled ’Plagiarism in the online world‘ I discuss my thoughts on the issue of plagiarism and credibility of information online. This post […]

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