Yep, somebody posts pics. And he can see them. It's a truly connected world now, and no matter how careful you are in your social exclusion, anyone even slightly related to your social circle is going to know what you've been up to.
Worst of all, this applies even if you avoid social networking sites altogether and invite people the old fashioned way. As long as a single one of your friends decides to Twitter about your exclusive gathering, or sneak away and use your house as background for her usual round of kissy-face photos, the game is up.
Well into the 90s, the rules for academic plagiarism were clearly established. You waited until the night before your King Lear essay was due, frantically searched the local library for condensed notes, copied them out in your own handwriting, and handed the essay in. Your 70-year-old English teacher, delighted at your precocious vocabulary and insight into pre-Roman political intrigue, gave you an A. Or, more likely, your overworked public school teacher barely glanced at the paper and rubber stamped it.
And, for a little while, it seemed like the Internet was going to make it easier. Essay-writing sites known as "paper mills" sprang up, supposedly providing students with "research help" when in reality they could supply you with a finished essay on the topic of your choosing. The world was at your fingertips, and your teachers were too old and confused to know what this newfangled "Internet" even was.
"The Dewey Decimal System is all I need."
But it was a false hope, and now the teachers have caught up.
Even a single Google search of a stolen phrase out of your essay will take them right to the Wikipedia page you copied and pasted it from. But these days, many colleges have taken it to the next level and use software that not only detects word-for-word copying, but even identifies the deftest trick in the plagiarizer's book: The old "switch around a few words so it's not exactly the same" gambit. So even if you laboriously go through your stolen essay on feudalism in the 10th century and change "peasant women" to "wenches" so that it won't come up on a Google search, you'll still get nailed.
You can't get away with the old "copy out of an obscure book in the library" technique, either. The most popular plagiarism-detection programs like Turnitin will compare your essay both to your fellow students' and to the 20 billion+ sites that the company has crawled the Web for, and flag anything from similar sentence structure to suspiciously parallel synonyms.
"You plagiarized from Wikipedia, Zanfried. That's punishable by death."
So it's not only going to check to see if your wording turns up in the millions of titles on Google Books, but also the essays of other students who have also used those books and tried the same trick. Honestly, how many years until the technology has advanced to the point that everybody who graduates college actually winds up with some kind of education?
Do have an idea in mind that would make a great article? Then sign up for our writers workshop! Know way too much about a random topic? Create a topic page and you could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow!
If you miss the "good ole days," find out how close we are to returning to it, in 5 Reasons The Internet Could Die At Any Moment. And find out what our planet would like if that happens, in The World of Tomorrow (If The Internet Disappeared Today).
We can thank the Internet for highly publicized pranks. Check out this DMV prank from our friends over at HuffPo.
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