At Get Real Post (GRP), we put in reasonable effort to ensure the content we publish is of the highest possible standard. This, of course, does not stop our detractors from dismissing it as a “fake news site” (bizarre, considering GRP is not and has never claimed to be a news site). Even more notable is how the same detractors claim that we publish “trash”, again a strange conclusion considering most of them cannot even prove that they have actually read any of our articles. All this is, of course, nothing new when one considers that most Filipinos generally don’t read and are more comfortable being told what to think rather than thinking for themselves.
So the most recent stunt launched by Twitter personality Zyza Nadine Suzara (a.k.a. Budget Babe), a former staff member of the infamous Aquino-era Budget Secretary Butch Abad, involves accusing us, specifically Yours Truly and author Ilda of plagiarism.
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Suzara uses as bases for these accusations a tweet from Twitter user @sienabs05 (a.k.a. “Tita Siena”) who, in an earlier tweet, exhibited a screenshot of a “plagiarism checker” app she applied to GRP article “A year after the Ukrainian crisis: what’s for the Philippines?” authored by our contributor who goes by the handle “The Unpopular Opinion”.
“Tita Siena” went on to draw conclusions from this, further tweeting (translated to English): It is on record that the most recent blog entry of one fake news-peddler-cum-pseudo-political-analyst-from-the-land-down-under is not an original work. We’ve found that these were taken from other political analysis sources. Interestingly, “Tita Siena” seems to have stopped short of using the word “plagiarism” in her own tweet thread. More on that later. What is notable is how users of what seems to be the same app (check-plagiarism.com) “Tita Sena” cited had reported on its unreliability and dubious accuracy in a thread on StackExchange.
Here is the accepted answer to the above question recorded in the StackExchange community the gist of which is as follows…
Answer: They are inaccurate, but moreover – they are simply not “checker[s] for plagarisms”, even if some of those programs have names which appear to claim the contrary.
The reason is that plagiarism is a subtle concept; determining whether some piece of writing P is plagiarized or not requires, in many cases, a proper understanding of the contents of P as well as of the context of P. Understanding those things is far beyond what software can currently (2022) do.
What software tools like the one you showed in your question really do is some kind of automated (probably statistical) analysis of texts, and highlighting of some parts of the text. The output of the software does not determine whether something is plagiarism. The fact that such a tool shows some absurd text message as a result (such as “33% plagiarized content” in your screenshot) tells us something about the software, not about the text it analyzed.
One of the most highly-regarded “plagiarism checkers” in the market is iThenticate, a product sold by the company Turnitin. The language used by the company is very precise. The tool measures similarity to identify instances of potential plagiarism. Nowhere in the product literature is it asserted that a capability to make an absolute conclusion of a case of plagiarism exists in their product line. This means that even the best of such tools makes no claim to that ability. This is articulated in detail in a company blog article “Does Turnitin detect plagiarism?” which states categorically, “Similarity does not equal plagiarism. The two concepts are not the same.” It also clarifies; “that’s why we call it the Similarity Report. You’ll notice we don’t call it the Plagiarism Report or – even worse – the cheating report. We don’t detect those things, and we’re not in the business of making those determinations.” The blog author Patti West-Smith, Turnitin Director of Customer Engagement and a “20-year education veteran” further writes…
There, I said it. This might ruffle some feathers and challenge some notions, but we need to clear the air. I’ll say it again – SIMILARITY does not equal PLAGIARISM.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dig into that statement a little more, and see if we can bring some clarity to the situation. As far back as 2013, Turnitin has been writing blog posts, speaking out, and generally finding any opportunity to clear up the question of whether our products detect plagiarism. No matter how many times we address the subject, we still encounter people around the world looking for the answer. On our Turnitin Educator Network, where Turnitin users around the world come together to ask questions and share ideas, the topic resurfaces year after year, and in my direct contact with educators and students around the world, it also comes up regularly. Our Customer Onboarding and Education teams report that the topic frequently surfaces in trainings as well. So, we KNOW that there is a great deal of uncertainty. The answer, however, is simple: Turnitin does not detect plagiarism. In an effort to clear up any remaining doubt, let’s go through some of the most frequent questions we hear one-by-one and try to answer each one as simply, directly, and clearly as possible.
So, here’s the short of it. The only person in the room accusing us of “plagiarism” is none other than Zyza Nadine Suzara alone. Not even the Twitter user she quotes goes as far as using the P-word. The free app used as bases for these unsound allegations has been found to be unreliable and downright dishonest. The dishonesty in any tool that claims to identify cases of plagiarism is elaborated upon by no less than the Customer Engagement Director of Turnitin — a company that sells iThenticate, one of the most highly-regarded of such products in the market.
There should be — and will be — consequences for the kind of dishonest behaviour Suzara exhibits online as well as for the harassment she incites using her dishonest allegations. More importantly, Suzara does all this with clear malicious intent to defame the subjects of her personal vendetta.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.