Social Media Plagiarism- Aderonke Adeyeye

Plagiarism is one of the few English words I didn’t know or come in contact with,  till I was in the tertiary institution, and I know this is going to be the case for a lot of persons too.

I remember vividly a scenario where one of our lecturers,  returned a student’s test paper ungraded,  with the word “Plagiarist” written boldly on it in red ink.

Everyone scrambled to their dictionaries and there it was “Plagiarist”, the big word that was etched in our memories for life.

We found out what it meant that day and truthfully the student in question,  was guilty of plagiarism. He had simply typed the test questions on Google Search engine and written what he saw,  word for word, phrase for phrase,  paragraph for paragraph. There was nothing on his answer sheet that belonged to him,  safe for his name and matric number anyway.

Since that incident as undergraduates, we all became aware of what plagiarism is and it’s implications.

Another incident that comes to mind when I hear the word ‘Plagiarism ‘,  was a case of a Postgraduate student, who copied all of his thesis from the internet. From the topic to the whole four chapters plus references, all was ”dubbed” from Google Search machine.

How the act escaped the notice of his supervisor, we had no clue but he was caught by one of the external supervisors, who read along from his device as the student was reading from his finished thesis too.

It was a really hilarious incident for outsiders, but the student almost lost his Postgraduate studentship due to plagiarism.

Plagiarism, as deduced from my short stories, can be explained as “the presenting of what is not yours as yours, and taking due credits for it.”

But expounding on the above definition,  I’d like to share different definitions of the word plagiarism in order to clarify things at length. According to The English Online Dictionary: “The act of plagiarizing: the copying of another person’s ideas, text, or other creative work, and presenting it as one’s own, especially without permission.

Also,  according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, to “plagiarize” means:

• to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own.• to use (another’s production) without crediting the source.• to commit literary theft.• to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

In summary,  the act of using any material used for expression, be it ideas,  words, images, songs and video concepts, which doesn’t originate from you and passing it as yours, without giving due acknowledgement to the original owner or your source,  is PLAGIARISM. There are different ways in which different people plagiarize.

• Students plagiarize when given take-home assignments/tests. Instead of reading to understand, they go online,  type in the question into any search engine, and copy straight from there to their answer sheet.

Also, they plagiarize their teachers when answering questions during exams. That is termed ‘La cram La pour ‘ in Nigerian education system.  Instead of reading and assimilating the notes and materials given by the lecturers, they cram the materials and pour it word for word. A lot of students even use the same examples the lecturers give in class.  This is not a good virtue as a student.

People plagiarize at workplaces too.  It’s safe to say that the students who plagiarize in school,  grow up to plagiarize at workplaces. The  Boss gives an assignment, instead of them to brainstorm and troubleshoot, they are seen on Google, trying to find ways to get things done the easy way, hereby stealing other people’s already made works and passing them off as theirs.

The other place where plagiarism is really having a field day is in the cyberspace, especially the social media platforms. This is where you’d see lots of persons passing off other people’s ideas, words, works, and even looks as theirs.

Day in day out,  people come online to express their feelings and emotions,  in words (which includes poems, short stories and normal posts), songs, images and videos. And it’s so baffling to see two persons say the thing the same way,  with the same words,  and you’re there wondering ‘who is the original owner? ‘

A lot of social media users have now made plagiarism an everyday thing,  especially on Facebook App. There is the possibility of seeing up-to ten Facebook users with the same message on their walls,  getting everyone confused as we try to deduce the real author.

Another show of plagiaristic shame is the game of who gets to Twitter and Instagram first to steal posts and bring to Facebook first.  You are there seeing the same post on different walls,  not knowing it originated from outside Facebook.

The icing on the shameful cake is after stealing and posting,  you’d see phrases like “Sense will not kill me ooo. ” And you are there wondering what is sensible in plagiarizing another person’s ideas.

Asides words,  people also plagiarize images, songs and videos.  There was a story of a Nollywood actress who posted the same dogs an American Model and Reality star posted as hers. It was a huge shame.

There was another incident where two Nollywood actresses, made their birthday posts with almost the same picture,  same background and costume.

Although, the heads were not the same,  hereby bringing the question to the mind of their followers: “Who owns the body?”

In the same vein, lots of artists plagiarize songs of other artists,  under the name of ‘doing covers ‘. Only a few of us get to really find out if they asked for permission from the original songwriter.

A good case is that of an older artiste who accused the ‘Wo’ crooner of not asking for permission. before he remixed one of his old songs.

And you get to wonder why people steal,  why can’t people be original and post their own materials on social media.

The answer is not far-fetched from the likes and comments. Every social media user knows that the tag of recognition on any social media platform is the number of likes and comments your posts can garner.

For Facebook,  it’s the likes, comments and shares. For IG, it’s likes, comments and reposting. For Twitter,  it’s likes, comments and retweets.

Any user on each platform who doesn’t get a certain amount of reactions on his/her posts,  see himself /herself as irrelevant.

Hence,  the race to be relevant and stay relevant leads many to do despicable things such as plagiarism. Stealing other people’s materials and passing them off as theirs.

And the most annoying thing is, the owner of the material might not get enough accolades as the thief, which is really bad. Then you wonder if it’s all worth it. Is getting plenty likes and comments worth the penalty of being a plagiarist?

The repercussions of plagiarism are not worth the fun and false/temporary recognition it gives. A student who plagiarizes can destroy his reputation as a student and also forfeit his studentship for life. A worker who plagiarizes stands the risk of a destroyed career.

The repercussions can also be legal and monetary.

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