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The Information Thief

August 30, 2012

Toronto, August 30, 2012 - Have you ever 'borrowed' someone else's knowledge or reputation? Or has someone ever done this to you? With the social web in front of us, it is too easy to use others' information without their knowledge or permission - even if it is free.

"Depending on how and what you share," says Randall Craig, Web and Social Media Strategist and author of the Online PR and Social Media series. "You are either seen as in-the-know or a thief." Randall Craig offers a summary of when and how to attribute when you are using someone else's information. It depends:

1) Clicking the 'share' or 'like' button when reading a blog. In this case, Facebook or LinkedIn automatically notes the source, and the writer or publisher -- by virtue of having the share buttons available -- is giving you implicit permission.

2) Quoting a few sentences within your blog or article. If you are quoting someone else's material, put the quote, the writer, and the source website name with a link to the original article. Doing this drives traffic to the source, and will generally keep you in the good books of the author and publisher. Quoting an article without a link is selfish and lazy.

3) Quoting an entire article or most of an article, even with attribution, is also on the ethical border. If you do this, there is no reason for the reader to go back to the original site. If you wish to use their article, connect with them first and ask for permission.

4) 'Reporting on' an article by rephrasing most of it is also considered unethical for the same reason as the above.

"These last two actions typically will make the author quite upset," Adds Randall Craig. "If they think that what you did is illegal, they may write a nasty legal response to you and your employer."
No one means to steal, but with everyone a publisher on the social web, it's too easy to cross the line without recognizing it. Remember to give credit where it is due whenever you speak or write. Not only is it the right thing to do, but you will increase your credibility, both with your audience -- and your sources.


Since 1994, Randall Craig has advised on web and social media strategy. He is the author of six books including the Online PR and Social Media series. More information about Randall Craig can be found at

For more information contact:

Randall Craig
416.256.7773 x101 /

Carolyn Bergshoeff
416.256.7773 x 103 /

For more information contact:
Randall Craig
108 ideaspace inc.
Phone: 416-256-7773 x101

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Randall Craig, Social Media and Networking Expert


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