In Our Opinion

Don’t be a plagiarist

By August 3, 2015 December 6th, 2019 No Comments

In 2009, when we were setting up our first client Facebook Page, we decided to write and publish a list of “rules of the road” for visitors to the client’s Page. While this may seem like business as usual today, at the time I was told by a colleague and friend I had asked to review the policies that it was very unusual (and a great idea).

Some highlights of the Rules, which were written in an informal/friendly manner, included:

Comments and conversations are accepted and encouraged! We want to hear from our customers and neighbors. Discussion boards and pages will be monitored on a daily basis by members of the Bank’s staff who will, when appropriate, contribute to the conversation.

Please watch your language. While we strive for everyone to think only the best of our institution, we understand that some visitors may wish to use the space for complaints or other issues. We ask that you refrain from using profane or off-color language; and that you keep the comments constructive in nature. Comments containing unsavory language, or which are considered inflammatory or off-topic, will be removed immediately.

Protect our employees. Whether you have a complaint or compliment, to protect their privacy we request you refrain from using staff member names in your comments. Comments containing employee names or other identifying information will be removed. If you want to send a compliment, complaint or comment about a specific employee, please send an e-mail to [email here].

Don’t be surprised if you hear from us! As stated, members of our staff will be monitoring our social networking pages. When appropriate, we will either respond to your question, issue or comment publicly, or we will contact you directly through the network’s mail system.

Today, as I visited a non-client Facebook Page, I found myself reading my own words:


It’s not the first time I’ve come across pieces of my original Rules of the Road on a non-client Facebook Page.


When I was a student, we had a word for copying someone else’s words and using them as your own – plagiarism. The folks at have another for it – fraud.

According to their site, “The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property and is protected by copyright laws, just like original inventions. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as they are recorded in some way (such as a book or a computer file).”

Let’s pretend for a minute that I believe anyone who says they don’t understand how copyright and intellectual property applies in the internet age – what can you do to avoid stealing someone else’s copy?

Remember If you didn’t write it, it is not yours to use unless you have permission from the owner or the creator.

Don’t assume it’s okay to use Since launching that first Page, we have used some variation of the Rules of the Road for other clients – which could lead someone to believe that the content can be used by others. All content was original at some point – don’t assume because you see multiple sources using the same content that you can also.

Say it your own way In school, I was taught that the easiest way to avoid plagiarism and show I had processed the information was the “say it in my own words.”

Give credit If you do use the words verbatim – as I did on this page for my husband’s website – give credit through the use of quotes, attribution and a link.

Insist on originality It’s possible that the stolen copy above came to the financial institution through a vendor or other source claiming originality. As marketers, we can protect ourselves and each other by creating a culture that rewards originality and, when discovered, corrects instances of “accidental” thievery.

Image source: Facebook