Facebook Allowed Plagiarized Content on its Platform

The content you view on Facebook might not actually be created by the account you see it on. It may have come from someone else’s Facebook profile – without any credit given to the person who created it.

Facebook has allowed plagiarized and recycled content to flourish on its platform despite having policies against it, the tech giant’s researchers warned in internal memos. This was reported by The Wall Street Journal as part of its series on “The Facebook Files”.

About 40% of the traffic to Facebook pages at one point in 2018 went to pages that stole or repurposed most of their content, according to a research report that year by Facebook senior data analyst Jeff Allen, one of a dozen internal communications reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Pages are used by businesses and organizations to disseminate content on Facebook, while individual users put content on what Facebook calls “profiles”.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the researchers also wrote that Facebook has been slow to crack down on copyright infringement for fear of opening itself to legal liability.

In May of this year, (according to The Wall Street Journal), Facebook began reporting for the first time the number of copyright violations it said it identified and removed proactively, saying at the time the company had been building the technology to do so “over the past few years”. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Facebook’s penalties for posting unoriginal content aren’t great enough to meaningfully discourage the practice.

It appears, based on what The Wall Street Journal reported, that the Top-20 posts included 15 that were copied outright or repurposed from other Facebook pages or social networks such as Reddit and Twitter. One post was deleted and only four were completely original pieces of content.

There are two paragraphs from The Wall Street Journal that stood out to me. One states that posting unoriginal content continues to be a formula for success on Facebook. The other states that the tactic is an effective way to build a large audience on Facebook and has been used by foreign and domestic groups that post divisive content and peddle false information on social media.

I stopped using Facebook a long time ago. If you are still using that platform, it is time to seriously consider whether or not the photo of a cute puppy you see actually came from the profile you are looking at. If you don’t know the person behind the profile personally, you need to consider that the content on it could have been plagiarized.