A YouTuber’s deep dive on plagiarism tries to make viewers care when creators steal content.
Copying has always been a part of internet culture. Sometimes it’s ethical, sometimes not. It’s almost always incentivized: Once social media began reshaping online life, copying became a go-to tactic for getting views.
When copying crosses an ethical line, we generally call it plagiarism. And plagiarism is thriving online as well. Get good enough at it — and don’t get caught — and you can make money by simply lifting the hard work of someone else and packaging it as your own. With so much content online, plagiarism can sometimes simply outrun efforts to detect it. The rise of AI-generated content is only piling on to this existing problem.
It’s easy to see how we got here. Memes work by copying and tweaking an existing idea, sound, or image. Viral “challenges” ask people to film themselves literally doing the same thing as someone else, from pouring ice water on their head to performing specific choreography to a song that just blew up on TikTok. If social media success thrives on creating things that other people will want to share, then what better way to ensure clicks than by doing the same thing that worked for someone else?