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Giving Credit Where Credit's Due

& Not Where It Isn't

I assume all of us had to learn how to cite a source (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian style, etc.) when we were assigned research papers in school, but too often what was presumably taught in school failed to segue into real life for students. Or times and formats of information propagation have changed and require new practices of giving someone credit for their words and works.

How do I know this? I see memes, photos, works of art, and passages on social media that:

  1. Have no author credited for someone else’s words, photos, etc. 

  2. Have a famous, usually respected person’s photo attached to a message someone else wrote and wanted to get across more broadly, so the famous person did not write the passage in the first place. Sorry, Morgan Freeman!

  3. Were copied and pasted onto one’s feed without crediting the source or admitting they did not write it, which makes it appear that the person wrote the words or took the photo her- or himself

Did you know that a number of websites are created by stealing other people and website's information and posting it as their own? When people visit these websites, the usurper websites earn ad revenue through unethical means. 


Best Practices:


The best practices for reposting ANYTHING on social media that you didn’t create include: 


  • making the effort to find the original source. A red flag should come up if you are sharing a quote or passage on a hot button issue that is credited to a famous person because some people like to further their agendas by attributing a famous name to their own words.

  • asking someone’s permission before posting/reposting their photos, especially if children are in the pictures. If a person has posted something publicly, and it includes the “Share” link, that gives an implied permission to share it. But if in doubt, ask.

  • checking the accuracy/truth of what you are posting, reposting or sharing; otherwise, if you continue to repost wrong or inaccurate information, you have become a tool for somebody’s agenda, and others will learn to not take seriously anything you post.  

If you make it a practice to post things on social media that are untrue or biased, you lose credibility, like a virtual Chicken Little. There is actually a term called 'Chicken Little Syndrome', which is a form of fear mongering and knee jerk response.  

I will follow citation source styles when the situation or a publication or professional guidelines call for it, but informally, simply giving someone credit by name for their words or work will suffice. And if in doubt about using it, ask permission first.


Slow down, don’t automatically hit the ‘share’ button when you see something that you admire without crediting the source, or if a post raises your ire and you want the rest of the world's ire to be raised, too. If you don't take the time to evaluate that piece of information or haven't figured out if you need to get permission or give credit to someone before you post or repost something, then don't post it. 

Donna Van Cleve

July 2020

Keep Learning

Clara Barton photo in Public Domain:

Fake meme idea from:

Screen Shot 2020-06-07 at 5.42.24 PM.png

See how easy it is? Anyone can create posts to make it look like someone quoted anything, no matter how outrageous, and yet outrageous information is circulated every day because people  assume it's all true.


This is one of my favorite pictures ever. It's of my oldest grandson Finn who turns into a cowboy when he visits his Pawpaw in Cotulla. The photo was taken by his mom, Vanessa Roeder. Used with permission.

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