Someone Stole My Content! What I Learned From The Incident

I WAS ROBBED! But I'm not that mad about it. 

A few days ago, I was tagged on a picture by one of my cousins. Turns out... the picture was of ME! But I didn't recognize the page, or the person who was running it. Neither did my cousin.

This is the post below.

She did it ! type amen if God is good!
Posted by Byron Jackson English on Monday, January 18, 2016

The person who was using my picture on their facebook page, had posted it with no acknowledgement of me or my blog and asked their followers to say "Amen" if God was good.

Now... if you're Christian like I am, I'm sure that you believe God is good too. My initial reaction was mild shock and surprise. Perhaps a twinge of confusion... but then I noticed that about 25,000 people had commented (at that time) and said Amen. Then I paused.

Was I really going to be angry because 20,000+ people said a quick prayer for me and my survival of breast cancer?

Well of course I wasn't. Who doesn't want good thoughts and prayers? Certainly not me. I want ALL THE PRAYERS and ALL THE GOOD THOUGHTS for my well-being. But I was perplexed.

As a blogger and social media user, I know that stealing content to use on your "online property" was really sketchy behavior. I know that people do it all the time, but content creators (that includes bloggers) get kinda pissy when they find other people using their content without permission. Basically... it is stealing.

You're probably thinking: "Is it REALLY stealing? I use Google for pictures all the time".

YEP. It is stealing. Even when you google pictures and use them to pass along to your friends, it is theft. However, all theft isn't weighed the same. Some people create content with the express desire that it is swiped and shared often. This is also known as "going viral" and for many of us... it is what we work really hard to accomplish. Going viral is like hitting the lottery, in a way. All of a sudden, you get this burst of attention on your corner of the internet and you become momentarily insta-famous. Not a bad thing. Seeing my content on another page felt like the start of a viral post for me. That was exciting!

I wasn't angry at first because I assumed that the person who owned the page probably came by my picture innocently enough and just shared it. I initially looked at the sharing of the picture as a good will effort. I thought of it as a show of support for breast cancer survivors.  I was okay with that. For awhile. And then... I reached out to the owner of the page.

Silence. No response.

As I noticed the numbers going up and up... I started getting sick to my stomach.

I love my blog. I think that lots of people would love my blog too, if they ever saw it. But the internet is a huge place and everyone doesn't have the budget to advertise to the world about their site. Since I was tagged on the picture, I kept getting notifications each time someone typed "Amen".

Get this: People were typing Amen on this post like every minute! Literally... every minute I was being notified of a new "Amen" or "God is good" response to this post. When I went back to look at it, then I noticed that nearly 30,000 people had commented and several hundred had shared the picture. What made that worse was that the name of my blog had been cropped out of the picture! Can you believe it?

Now, once I noticed that... I got a bit angry. It is one thing to pass along something that you feel your audience would like. I do that all day every day. On all of my pages. Some material that I create, other things have been created by other people. I don't remove or block or hide watermarks, ever. Because I want people to be able to find the creator of the content if they want to. Social media is pretty social after all. The sharing of information is what we do here.

But cropping out my blog name meant that someone would not know that the picture was from "My Fabulous Boobies". I was just a girl in two pictures -- once bald, now with hair.

Damn. Wasted opportunity.

I am really shocked right now. Someone shared a picture/graphic of me (from my blog) with no acknowledgement of my blog...

Or was it? 

See, I know that I am more than a survivor of breast cancer. Not that surviving the most traumatic experience of my life is a bad thing. It most definitely is not! A lot of great things have happened to me since my diagnosis and many of them are a direct consequence of my disease and the actions that I have taken to chronicle my journey and become a breast cancer advocate. But 30,000+ people had no idea that I was this wonderful person with a great blog, who appeared on BET, and has traveled to London and New York and Philadelphia and other cities talking about breast cancer.

They just saw a girl who once was bald and now has hair.

I had a moment where I was confused, slightly angry and really perplexed. I sent a message to the page owner and asked him to add my blog's address or my page link. There was no reply. That made me think that his use of my picture (and all the other pictures he was using in the same manner) was more about greedy intent than I originally believed.

What resources did I have to fight this though? 

I could have reported the page and my picture to facebook and asked to have it removed. But because it was a post asking for prayer, I thought that was an extreme reaction. And not exactly the best course of action either. So if I wasn't going to report him... I figured that the next best thing I could do was to acknowledge that I saw it, let my network know that although it was posted without my permission, I wanted them to comment on it and to share it.

The bottom line as I saw it was that this young man had a much larger following than I did. And while I didn't particularly love that he refused to acknowledge me - and therefore drive some traffic my way - I wasn't going to be angry about prayers and good wishes over my life. Even if his intention for it was just to increase engagement on his page.

Understanding the facebook algorithm is what makes the actions a little suspect.

Facebook wants the content creators (and brands and businesses) to pay to get more people to see our content. If you don't pay, then your content is sort of bottled up and only shown to a small percentage of your followers. It really sucks.

By sharing content like my picture, this guy had tapped into something that the followers of his page liked. They liked the good will feeling of seeing him support breast cancer survivors, domestic violence survivors and such. They liked being able to say Amen or a quick prayer for the person in the picture. He didn't ask them to do anything other than that. That was enough. They were engaged enough to take an action and he got a bump in the algorithm.

By posting these types of posts - that he found all over the internet - he had free content to share and a bonafide way of engaging his audience. He beat the algorithm.

Meanwhile... this content creator was suffering from the bottleneck of the algorithm. I don't get that type of engagement on facebook at all. Most of my facebook posts from My Fabulous Boobies on Facebook reach about 5% of my followers. That's maybe 50 people or so. It is difficult to get engagement when so few people see what you post. Facebook just leaves me hanging...

For the past year or so, I've been reading about this change and chatting about ways to overcome the bottleneck with other bloggers and online business owners. Some people have completely abandoned facebook because of the limited interaction. Others have been working around it (or trying to) and then there are folks like me.. who have basically lived on the hope that one day it will work in my favor.

I don't advise using my tactic for your page. 

This young man who hasn't had his page as long as I have, has an enormous following. Well, enormous compared to me. And in a few days, with very little effort actually, he got more engagement with my own content than I've ever been able to.

Let that sink in. 

A guy who is a comedian (according to his bio) and an entrepreneur, got more engagement from my picture acknowledging that I survived breast cancer than I have ever gotten on my own - for my own work. And my people KNOW that I am a breast cancer survivor and advocate. CRAZY! And genius. And simple. LOL...

See, the facebook algorithm will promote posts that get a lot of engagement. Then you don't have to pay to boost your posts, or for ads. The more that people comment and like your posts, the more people that are exposed to your post... and therefore your page. When you like a post, that post is then put into your feed and your friends can see it.

I need THAT KIND of engagement.

What I learned though... 

I learned a few things from this experience that I want to share with you. Please take note of this (bookmark this page or copy this section to your evernote).

  • Keeping a calm head makes it so much easier to make new moves. I knew that I had to find a way to capitalize on this moment. I just didn't have any idea what to do. But thankfully I stayed calm and asked questions of more experienced bloggers to get some insight. 
  • Watermarks have to be placed strategically! The biggest loss was my own failing. By putting my watermark/blog name in the uppermost corner of the picture, it was easy to crop out and be shared as though it was someone else's original content. That won't happen anymore. Lesson learned. Watermark through the main focus on your graphic. 
  • CTA's work! CTA's -- calls to action -- really work. Sometimes I forget to do the simplest thing, which is to ask my friends and followers to like and to share my content. I won't forget that anymore. Each time my content is shared, that is an opportunity to meet a new reader and perhaps share new insight about breast cancer. That's why I do this. So I have to make sure that I engage my tribe to help me get the word out. 
  • I create good content. That really matters. At last count, over 50,000 people have said amen or some sort of prayer for me. That is huge! And I created the content that made that happen. How wonderful. 
  • Bond with your tribe. I believe in having a strong tribe (community). In this case, there was no way that I would have ever known about this sharing of my picture if my cousin and one of my girlfriends had not alerted me. Once I shared it with my tribe and let them know what happened, I learned that several people in my circle had already seen the picture but they assumed that it was me sharing it. Once they realized that it was shared without my permission, they went into immediate action. My tribe posted links to my blog on the thread, links to my blog's fan page and to my tshirt shop. Then several of them shared the picture to their friends list and included the links to my pages as well. That's dedication. That's love. And I love them so much for it!! 
  • Knowing your audience is really important. Although this young man is a comedian and an entrepreneur (according to his bio), he has a good understanding of what his audience likes. It is amazing that he doesn't mind sharing content that has nothing to do with his business in order to stay engaged with his audience. 
  • Use your social media to piggyback on your thieve's work. When you're the size of a flea and you're facing a dog... you've got to hop on for the ride! I didn't want to report him but I wanted to capitalize on his traffic. I asked my friends to share his post. I created a new post with just the picture and asked them to share that. I re-shared the original blog post [Survivors Rock Out For Breast Cancer Awareness Month] on all of my social media channels (be sure to follow the sisters that I highlighted in this post too!!). I updated the post to include ads (gotta capitalize on the new traffic). And I shared the story about what happened in various facebook groups that I own. 
  • When you've been swiped... you can get mad or you can work around it. Which path you choose depends on what was done with your content and how you feel about it. In years past, someone scraped my blog. Scraped, meaning, they went to my blog, copied a bunch of my posts and then posted them on their website. It was an attempt to siphon off some of my readers/followers and draw them to their page. When I discovered it, I was so angry. One, their site was horrible looking  and I took that personally. Two, stealing is just wrong. They weren't concerned in the least bit about my cancer journey... they just wanted my traffic so that they could get clicks on their ads. That bogus site cost me some google ranking which really hurt my income. I reported them. I sent a cease and desist letter. But I'm still recovering from that theft. Luckily google doesn't penalize repeated content the same way that it used to. In this case, although I could see very quickly that I was being used for someone else's gain... I felt that I gained too (in the form of prayers and possibly recognition down the line) so I didn't think it was worth fighting it. I would have worked with him had he responded to me... but oh well. He didn't. Gotta keep it moving. 
  • And that's the last point... It is the internet, you can expect to see your material pop up in crazy places. That's part of the journey. All I can do is to continue to provide good content and pray that it reaches the people it is supposed to reach. 

In 2016 it is all about being about your business

I've been blogging for quite awhile now. I am actually a veteran blogger. I've seen the industry change a lot over the years and I have changed too. I'm no longer just a hobby blogger, hoping for 10 views. I'm an entrepreneur and a small business owner. There are lessons to learn from surviving breast cancer and I will continue to share those. There are also lessons to learn from being an online entrepreneur. I am going to be sharing a lot more of those tips going forward.

I'm constantly being asked to teach someone how to start a blog or how to become a health advocate. This year, I will be providing lots of tips, tools and information to help others to start their own journeys into blogging and/or health advocacy. I think both lanes are extremely fulfilling and affirming. And you can carve a business for yourself from doing this work.

Stay tuned to this page. Sign up for the newsletter if you haven't already. A lot of information is coming your way.

My perspective is: It isn't enough to survive... once you've survived, now you've got to LIVE! Why not follow your dreams and use what you know and what you've experienced to move to a new level in your life? 

Please share this article to your friends on social media. Scroll to the very bottom of this post and click on one of the boxes to share to your facebook, twitter or pinterest. Thank you in advance for sharing!! And sign up for the newsletter before you go. You'll learn about freebies, giveaways, and events (in-person events and online/virtual events). But you have to sign up so that you'll be notified. I promise I won't spam you.

Join the Fabulous Boobies newsletter here!

* indicates required

Email Format

This blog post may contain affiliate links for items to purchase. Using these lnks will result in a commission for the blog. Using these links will not increase any price you pay. I'll be grateful if you click the links though... the money earned helps to keep this blog up and running. Thanks!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Web Statistics