A+, the viral content site established by actor and tech investor Ashton Kutcher has been accused of lifting content wholesale and without credit from sites including BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post, reports the Daily Dot.
A+, first launched in 2011, claims to be a “platform that will leverage viral social storytelling to create positive change in the world”, and offers a mixture of listicles, videos and lifehacks.
It describes itself as the “fastest-growing site in the history of the internet” and claims to have racked up 30 million unique visitors in a little over 100 days after a 2013 relaunch.
The Daily Dot’s Rob Price, however, however, has investigated the platform and found the site to have copied and pasted content directly from BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Cracked and Instagram (without credit).
Articles reposted with very minor alterations included “This Girl Was Sent Home in Tears Because Her Dress Was Too Short So Her Mom Did The Most Awesome Thing Ever”, which the Daily Dot describes as identical to a BuzzFeed post by Ryan Broderick; aside from a changed headline.
Plenty of examples of articles lifted either entirely without change or with very minor changes have been highlighted and screen-grabbed; all of which have since been removed by A+ after the internet paper asked for comment.
All A+ content from before July has been removed from the site; all tweets from before 6 August; and all Facebook posts before 4 August. It is also reported that KS Anthony, who described himself as “writer/content developer at A+”, deleted his LinkedIn profile after he was contacted by the Daily Dot.
A+’s about page describes its copyright policy thus:
We respect the intellectual property rights of others and expect our users to do the same.
It is our policy, in appropriate circumstances and at our discretion, to disable and/or terminate the accounts of users who repeatedly infringe or are repeatedly charged with infringing the copyrights or other intellectual property rights of others
Kutcher, who first became famous for his MTV show Punk’d, in which he played secret camera pranks on celebrities, has since established himself as a Hollywood movie star and tech investor.
This is not the first time, however, that Kutcher has been accused of plagiarism. This month, the photographer Marsel van Oosten took to Twitter to call out the star for stripping an image of his of its watermark and reposting it as his own.
July was a big month for plagiarism exposes. BuzzFeed sacked its political editor, Benny Johnson, over consistent plagiarism, and the Times’ chief tennis writer Neil Harman was found to have copied large swaths of a number of his Official Wimbledon Annuals from other writers.
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