30 10 2016

These young boys can be called Fanboys, right?

Sadly there are other very special people leaving their distinctive traces (aka Fanboy DNA) in social networks most often trying to incite one more of these useless platform wars.

More about …


Thanks for reading.

The Dark Triad

27 11 2015

Troll-able Networks


Hi, I’m Niccolo Machiavelli.

The Internet is an anonymous environment where it is easy to seek out and explore one’s niche, however idiosyncratic. Consequently, antisocial individuals have greater opportunities to connect with similar others, and to pursue their personal brand of self expression as well as their ongoing attempts to defend decisions (e.g. purchase decisions) they once made.

Everyone is entitled to express his opinion on the internet. But …

There is an Apple logo in my avatar. Why? Well, I’m blogging about the company, the people standing behind, and the exciting products designed in California. Here on Google+ (an Android dominated network regarding communities dedicated to mobile devices) this alone is an inexhaustible wellspring of personal attacks. 

Stick to the truth (and to the topic) and reduce your prejudices you might have just because there is someone with a different opinion.

Here is what Erin Buckels et al. tell us about trolls …

Online Trolling is the practice of behaving in a deceptive, destructive, or disruptive manner in a social setting on the Internet with no apparent instrumental purpose. From a lay-perspective, Internet trolls share many characteristics of the classic Joker villain: a modern variant of the Trickster archetype from ancient folklore. Much like the Joker, trolls operate as agents of chaos on the Internet, exploiting “hot-button issues” to make users appear overly emotional or foolish in some manner. If an unfortunate person falls into their trap, trolling intensifies for further, merciless amusement. This is why novice Internet users are routinely admonished,

“Do not feed the trolls!”.

Despite public awareness of the phenomenon, there is little empirical research on trolling. Existing literatures are scattered and multidisciplinary in nature. For instance, Shachaf and Hara conducted interviews of Wikipedia trolls, finding themes of boredom, attention seeking, revenge, pleasure, and a desire to cause damage to the community among their expressed motivations for trolling. In other research, Hardaker conducted a content analysis of Usenet posts that identified four primary characteristics of trolling: aggression, deception, disruption, and success. The deceptive and “pointless” disruptive aspects may distinguish trolling from other forms of online antisociality, such as cyber-bullying, where perpetrator identities are usually clear and the intent is more straightforward.

Frequency of activity is an important correlate of antisocial uses of technology.

For instance, cyber-bullying is often perpetrated by heavy Internet users, and disagreeable persons use mobile technologies more than others – not for socializing, but for personal entertainment. Similarly, gamers who express non-social motivations for online gaming (e.g., competition, personal achievement) demonstrate lower levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness than others. Still other research has linked low agreeableness, low conscientiousness, and high extraversion to heavy Internet use. These patterns parallel gender differences in online behavior:

Men are higher in overall Internet use and higher in antisocial behavior online.

Overall, the findings suggest that it may be fruitful to examine associations of trolling with the Big Five, gender differences, and global Internet habits.

The noxious personality variables known as the Dark Tetrad of personality
Narcissism, Machiavellianism, Psychopathy, and Sadistic Personality
are yet to be investigated in the trolling literature.

Their relevance is suggested by research linking these traits to bullying in both adolescents and adults. Also suggestive is research showing that narcissists and those with antisocial personality disorder use Facebook more frequently than others, thus indicating that dark personalities leave large digital footprints.

Of the Dark Tetrad, we expected everyday sadism to prove most germane to trolling. After all, trolling culture embraces a concept virtually synonymous with sadistic pleasure: in troll-speak, “lulz”.

About the term “Dark Triad” …

Narcissism is characterized by grandiosity, pride, egotism, and a lack of empathy.

Machiavellianism is characterized by manipulation and exploitation of others, a cynical disregard for morality, and a focus on self-interest and deception.

Psychopathy is characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, impulsivity, selfishness, callousness, and remorselessness.

The tenor …

There are many people trolling in social networks. It can be a soul-destroying task to engage in pointless discussions in the comment section of posts. We cannot expect members or moderators to become psychotherapists. So my suggestions is to simply delete comments and block people with mental diseases according to Niccolo Machiavelli’s saying

The wise man does at once what the fool does finally.

Otherwise it’s most likely that you will lose your passion to engage in one of the best content networks worldwide, it’s Google+.

More …

About Google+

About fanboys

About etiquettes 

About Internet trolls

Feel free to download E. Buckels article as a PDF.

Thanks for reading.

Word Selfies

27 10 2015


The risk to be seen as a dumbass.

Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and others changed our lives and the way we communicate with each other. 

Sad to say that this often goes along with untruths, aggressiveness, ignorance, insolence, and other mental deficits.
A phone or a tablet might not seem to be something worth fighting over, but what it stands for most definitely is.

A fanboy immediately turns into a hostage. Hostages have no choice but to buy certain products.

They are far less likely to care if one device is better than another. It’s the choosing one thing over another which leads to narratives about why you did it. If you have to rationalize why you bought a luxury item, you will probably find ways to see how it fits in with your self-image.
To combat postdecisional dissonance, the feeling you have committed to one option when the other option may have been better, you make yourself feel justified in what you selected to lower the anxiety brought on by questioning yourself.

All of this forms a giant neurological cluster of associations, emotions, details of self-image and biases around the things you own.

This is why all over the Internet there are people in word fights over video games and sports teams, cell phones and TV shows. The Internet provides a fertile breeding ground for this sort of behavior to flourish.

The imagination …

You prefer the things you own over the things you don’t because you made rational choices when you bought them.

The reality …

You prefer the things you own because you rationalize your past choices to protect your sense of self.

Thanks for paying attention.

Apples and Droids

9 04 2015

Everyone is entitled to create a community on Google+.
At the time there are about 50k communities with memberships ranging from 1 to more than 500k. It’s obvious that we also see many communities dedicated to the brand Android as well as those dedicated to Apple. This incites platform wars and trolling is a daily business for many members. This area of life often is called FANBOYISM.

The scientific background …

The Internet changed the way people argue and communicate with each other. Usually this happens between men, because men will defend their ego no matter how slight the insult is. These are also usually about geeky things that cost lots of money, because these battles take place on the Internet where tech-savvy people get rowdy, and the more expensive a purchase, the greater the loyalty to it.


A phone might not seem to be something worth fighting over, but what it stands for most definitely is.

A fanboy immediately turns into a hostage. Hostages have no choice but to buy certain products.

They are far less likely to care if one device is better than another. It’s the choosing one thing over another which leads to narratives about why you did it. If you have to rationalize why you bought a luxury item, you will probably find ways to see how it fits in with your self-image.

To combat postdecisional dissonance, the feeling you have committed to one option when the other option may have been better, you make yourself feel justified in what you selected to lower the anxiety brought on by questioning yourself.

All of this forms a giant neurological cluster of associations, emotions, details of self-image and biases around the things you own.

This is why all over the Internet there are people in word fights over video games and sports teams, cell phones and TV shows. The Internet provides a fertile breeding ground for this sort of behavior to flourish.

Summary …

The imagination is that you prefer the things you own over the things you don’t because you made rational choices when you bought them.
But the reality is that you prefer the things you own because you rationalize your past choices to protect your sense of self.

Related links …

I had a dream

Google+ Activity Guide

Google+ on iOS devices

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.

Google+ Moderation

8 02 2014

Google offers a hardly comprehensible and understandable variety of services and apps. It seems to me that if somebody has something in his mind Google brings it to the public and does not say NO like Apple does when trying to limit capabilities to the needs of it’s customers.

There are different opinions about these two completely different strategies. A little bit more ‘what users want, need, and are able to manage‘ would be a step forward for both companies.
Wrong concepts cannot be healed by an ever increasing number of FAQ pages. So the most important point is a consistent integration of services into a limited number of apps or web pages with equal functionalities and user interfaces.

Tablets are massively gaining popularity and it’s annoying to see some options in an app developed for tablets and others which are only accessible via a corresponding website. It’s not enough to turn an app into an eye catcher and abandon the consistency between functionalities available on websites and tablet apps.

This is a noteworthy discrepancy.

Google is the only big company massively involved in social media and with it’s Android OS in development of mobile devices as well.
Admittedly we are in the middle of a transitional phase from computers to tablets but who else should be able to bridge the gulf between both eras if not Google?

Success is not a question of more complexity but of following the KISS principle.

The KISS (Keep it simple, stupid or Keep if simple and straightforward) principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complex; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

There is no need for more than 200 options to control access to social media and response from connections. Ever growing capabilities might be useful in sector specific software like SAP enterprise applications or Microsoft Dynamics which are daily used and managed by professionals. But the overwhelming number of people engaged in social media just want an easy-to-use communication platform and clear notifications if their behavior is faulty.

G+ combines the best features of all social media systems and is not bound to any special content or media type. There are highly interesting communities with sophisticated content.

The strongest competitors …Twitter is just a notification system. Twitter accounts only contain pointers to content. G+ is far away from the ordinary bubbles on Twitter, which are contentless per design and just a forwarding system like SMSs with an automated distribution list.
In so far it’s one of the worst system to organize information because it’s completely unstructured.
Admittedly there are strong benefits when it comes to spread important information all over the world e.g. information about the Arab Spring.
Facebook allows content management but it does not really allow to structure and summarize content you are interested in.
Many other well-known SMs are limited in their targets or there is no suitable app for iOS devices available.

Summarized we can say that Google implemented an outstanding social network concept with communities, rules for communities, circles, and moderators. But this is just the first, although essential step. Since months there are no improvements when it comes to push the daily activity into this concept.

The role of moderators …

Moderators play an important role in Google’s concept of a content targeted network. Quality within communities decreases drastically if moderators do not take action and let the posts flow without notifying members if they are

  • Off Topic
  • Post useless content
  • Insult other people in the comment section
  • Trolling
  • Spamming
  • or, the worst case,
    Off generally accepted etiquettes

Moderators do the job in their leisure time. So they should get a maximum of support by the owner of a social network. But at the time they do not get the necessary support to do their work with an acceptable effort. To assess posts and then to decide about any necessary action against a member it needs some stats to identify repeated misbehavior and to differentiate between new and experienced members. Moderators should not earn their living from driving websites related to a community’s main topic. They will try to avoid post removals are bans because they don’t want to be seen as authoritative people with possible consequences on their business.

Notifications …

Moderators should behave as teachers. Registering for a social network is a quite easy procedure. Reading guides about it is what the majority of people won’t do. Retrieving relevant information is mostly limited to quick guides containing feature descriptions. It requires some more to get a great member in a community. So moderators have to advise members if misbehavior is recognized. They can do it by notifying members with text templates.

When using an iOS device there is a suitable way to notify members by using shortcuts. Shortcuts can be defined in Settings – General – Keyboard – Shortcuts by entering a phrase (the text) and a shortcut (a combination of some characters). Entering a shortcut in a text field and pressing the Space Bar lets the shortcut expand to the complete phrase. All my shortcuts for moderating start with a G followed by some mnemonic characters.


Examples …

Phrase (if it occurs repeatedly)
You are a *TROLL*. You are obviously missing the point that this is an Apple related community. Move over to other communities to place your comments.

In case you don’t know what TROLL means:
In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.
Please *STOP* this behavior or you will be BANNED. Neither Google nor this community needs people like you.


Please pay attention to our categories and use the right one when posting. We have more than 60k members and they should see just related topics when choosing a category. If you want a discussion it can be done in the comment section of every category. Thanks.


According to the community rules you have to add an intro to your post. This intro can be a comprehensive overview about what users can expect when they open the link, your opinion, or a question. Just posting a link is seen as link/post littering. Thanks

Shortcuts defined on one iOS device are synced across all other iOS devices with the same Apple ID.

Support for moderators …

Moderating a community dedicated to the brand Apple with more than 60k members is a hard job because emotions of members come up with the same frequency as the frequency of their device’s processors. I do this job since some months and here are my suggestions to increase support for the scapegoats (aka moderators) of a community.


Feel free to DOWNLOAD this concept map in PDF file format.

Some annotations …

As long as Google doesn’t provide useful stats about actions taken on posts, moderators will still have much work by always looking at the member’s profile and trying to get more information. This is what moderators cannot do in their leisure time. So their decisions are mostly ad-hoc decisions usually not based on the individuality of the member.

Although moderators are under no obligation to explain their decisions, stats for

  • investigating spam
  • investigating link-littering
  • identifying repeated violations of rules

would help to treat members in a fair way by using individualized notifications.

  • Clearly defined community rules and stats for moderators about activities of members as well as moderators are indispensable to let moderators decide about posts in a fair manner. For new members notifications should be friendly with an added link to a comprehensive member guide like that of Andrew Harasewych, Community Member Guide.
    Andrew is the owner of the G+ community ‘Social Media Strategy’ with a great reputation.
    If stats show that the member repeatedly failed a ban maybe considered if he cannot bring forward any arguments after being notified.
  • Many moderators do their job on mobile devices. So features which are available on websites should also available within the mobile app.
    Re-categorization of posts can only be done on a desktop. The feature is neither available in the G+ app nor can it be done with mobile browsers like Safari or Chrome. Moderators have to remove the post, notify the member and he has to post again.
  • Google should provide a frame for community rules so that members are not faced with completely different looking About sections. Regarding general rules Google should automatically add a useful link to every About section of every community.
  • Moderators always should be engaged contributors and commenters. By writing comprehensive comments and contentful posts they should be a shining example for members.
  • Google has implemented an automated spam detection system to identify unusual posting patterns, duplicate, low value and thin content. This spam detection system works quite well. Any posts or shares to communities which possibly include links to sites with malware or maybe non-trusted merchants are flagged immediately, invisible to any community members but moderators.
    Another reason something would be marked as spam is because moderators previously marked it as spam. Persistent messages from the same user, identical text, stuff like that. Moderators should always report bad content in communities as spam!
    The more they report, the better the automatic spam detection will get! Google+ also works to analyze patterns and predict what types of messages are fraudulent or potentially harmful. This includes the typical spam language that we see daily, (adult, get rich quick, mail-order brides) or perhaps messages from accounts or IP addresses that previously sent reported spam messages.
    (Andrew Harasewych, Community Owner Guide)

About spam detection …

Many people ask why their posts to Google+ communities are flagged as spam by the Google+ spam filters. Google doesn’t share details about how the spam filters work (because that would make it easy for spammer to stay just on the legal side of what the filters would block and annoy us all), but we know – or at least believe we know – a few things based on observation:

  • 1 Identical or substantially similar posts shared or reshared with multiple communities are more likely to be flagged as spam, especially if they are shared/reshared within a relatively short period of time. To avoid this, I recommend never sharing similar material to more than three communities within about a two-hour period.
  • 2 Posts which contain only links or links with only a minimal amount of additional information (also known as “link litter”) appear to have a higher probability of being flagged as spam. Such posts violate the rules in many communities. As an aside, there are also strong indications that posts like that also have an extremely low click-through rate.
  • 3 Posts which are identical or similar to posts that have been removed from multiple communities for violating the communities’ rules appear to have a higher probability of being flagged as spam.

    It is extremely important to become familiar with the community rules before posting because the rules vary significantly between communities, and a pattern of violating the rules in some communities might affect your posts to other communities.

  • 4 Posts which are reshares of non-community public or private posts which were reported as spam appear to have a higher probability of being flagged as spam. Note that selecting the option for email notification when sharing non-community posts can lead people to report the posts as spam because many recipients do not appreciate the unwanted emails. You should virtually never use that option unless people have asked to be notified by email.
  • 5 Posts by individuals who have previously been identified as spammers by the spam filters have a higher probability of being flagged as spam. If you get indications that your posts are being flagged as spam, it is best to review and change your posting habits promptly. The longer you persist in the same behavior, the longer the spam filters appear to treat you as a spammer. In serious cases, it can even lead to your account being suspended or revoked.

(Source John Skeats)

Summary …

Google has to improve the support for moderators to let them keep the quality on a high level and to prevent that this great network moves into the wrong direction.
Moderators play the essential role in a concept based on communities. They cannot do their work effectively without further support by Google.

Additionally Google has to improve its mechanism to identify spam. There are still many cases where posts are not flagged but obviously spam.

Related links …


Google+ on iOS Devices

Google+ Activity Guide

Moderator Guide

Google+ Content Policy

Thanks for dropping by wherever you came from.

Brand communities

23 11 2013

Is Google+ on the way to become a contentless network? Does it come closer to networks like Facebook or Twitter where nearly everything is allowed?


But owners and moderators of communities have to strengthen their efforts.

And admittedly they do it already in some well-moderated communities.

I’m not talking about communities of any kind but of those related to brands where the companies behind are strong competitors.


Some weeks ago I was promoted as a moderator of the largest community dedicated to Apple. And believe me that’s a hard job because there are many members just expressing their feelings by posting photos or single sentences without adding value for other members. It’s the same situation in other communities related to the Android operating system of Google running on devices of many vendors like Samsung.

According to the intention of Google G+ is said to be a content network not comparable with e.g. Twitter or Facebook. Many members in communities still do not accept this concept and litter useless content, photos without any intro, just one sentence or some words and usually take the first available category which is most often ‘Discussion’.

If the post is online it takes just some minutes and a discussion, which is no real discussion, starts. People start talking about everything but not refer to the posted content.

Please read this great comment written by Dave Trautmann on Google+ on 2013-09-13.

Comment Litter happens as much in real life as it does online.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been to a large public meeting to discuss important (and suitably real) issues only to have someone get up and question the integrity of the people presenting the information. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to have someone get up and complain about something which happened 30 years ago and they just can’t let it go.
I can’t tell you how I feel for public officials who are required to attend these meetings only to be harangued by a hostile crowd with some other agenda in mind. I have even been to a couple of perfectly normal public consultations only to have them hijacked by people bringing their own issue (entirely off topic) into the meeting and disrupt anyone who wants to bring things back to what the meeting was originally all about.

I’ve been reading comments since Usenet and I am not surprised by the childish compulsions of some people to only champion their own “brand” loyalty. The demographic of these posts is quite specific. I have had to build up a strong tolerance for offtopic, cranky, in-your-face, sophomoric remarks in order to be able to find those other wellconsidered, clearly written, referenced, reliable, and insightful remarks which appear about as frequently as the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).

I cannot begin to list all of the valuable things I have learned from reading some people’s gems after sifting through a beach full of rocks•. A lot of what I have synthesized in my own understanding of the world has been shaped by exchanges I have enjoyed online, in blog posts, comments, and from e-mail with previous colleagues• I sometimes discover things myself and try to bring them into the public sphere.

But I find it is as true in real life, as it is online, not a lot of people are interested in new ideas. Not many have a tolerance for questioning their own belief systems, myths, and personal scripts. Sometimes events force whole populations to reexamine their values (like a war) but in most cases people prefer the comfort of their own views and seek out others who seem to have the same views (whether or not it can be verified those views are the same).

So what can moderators do if posts or comments are not well considered or the comments spiral gets out of control or strays off into unrelated topics?

Well, they can notify the member and delete the post. Acting on members regularly leads to obsessive comments. Arguments are not brought forward. Thanks Google that moderators can ban those members, report insults, mute or even block them.

But that’s no workable solution and it’s not durable.
It’s not in the responsibility of Google to enforce quality and avoid uselessness and control behavior. Everyone in the internet is entitled to publish his opinion. It’s the reality that this right in many cases is misused.
And it’s the task of active moderators to prohibit this behavior.

Support for moderators, please …

Unfortunately Google’s app Google+ for iOS supports moderators just to a certain extent, not enough to do their work effectively. We should not forget that moderating is a job done in leisure time and no one can expect that all their actions are fairly done.

The flaws of the Google+ app …

  • 1 Moderators cannot look into a log showing them which members have already been notified because of misbehavior.
    With this information repeated violations could be monitored and would give solid arguments for banning a member. It’s a question of fairness.
  • 2 Some additional options for notifying members are missing.
    Off Topic
    Useless Comment
    Obsessive Comment
    At the time moderators always have to write a comment or insert a text template.
  • 3 Stats showing from which communities a member was already banned.
  • 4 Report to Google at the time offers just ‘Spam’ as an option.
    The following options should be added:
    Insulting Comment
  • 5 A moderator should be able to see whether his colleagues are online and active or not.
    This could be done by some kind of ‘Moderators Log-In’.

Trolls …

In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

This behavior is always seen if Apple fans comment in Android communities or vice versa. It’s childish, unworthy for adults, points to a close-minded attitude, and ignores the irrelevance of these kinds of opinions for human life.

Identifying post litterers …

If somebody posted off topic or made any other failure I saw these kinds of reactions:

  • Sorry
  • … German Wehrmacht
    (This is quite interesting because these people first look up my profile, see I’m a German, and then post an abusive comment not knowing who I am.)
  • I can post here what I want you …
  • or simply no reaction

The latter one is a strong indicator for a post litterer. He comes, shares, and quits without engaging in any upcoming discussion, a case for the ban hammer.

Even moderators are human beings and so they are faulty. If a member starts a fruitful discussion about his removed post and put forward understandable arguments, the moderator can simply reply ‘Sorry, please share again’ or remove the ban.

All members should not forget that the work of moderators especially in great communities (which are always attractive for litterers) is mostly an uncoordinated leisure job on the fly. Most often articles and comments are quickly skimmed for a more or less fair impression of the content.

Google’s spam detection …

The Google+ Community ‘Community Moderatos’ is a high-quality content community where many problems are discussed with just one target: The quality of G+ and what moderators can do.

Rupert Wood (on Community Moderators)
Community Spammers – why doesn’t google take action?
Firstly I must admit that Google has gotten better at spotting spam and putting it into moderation in communities, but even when multiple communities confirm that it’s spam, why does the culprit go ‘unpunished’ and is allowed to join and spam further communities?
Surely a user who has the activity similar to that shown on the link below should incur some restrictions on their ability to post, and/or join communities.long can such a spammer survive until Google takes action? Indefinitely it appears.
How many Google communities can a spammer join and post to before action is taken? There seems to be no upper limit surely new users should be limited to maximum number of communities they can join!
How many reports from community moderators does it take to alert google to a ‘spammer’? Looking at this example there are dozens of examples of posts being removed from communities, even if only 1 in 10 removals were accompanied by a ‘report’ action this account should have been investigated by now, if not suspended until investigated.

So we need an update of spam detection to keep the quality on a high level.

Concept map …

For a visualized summarization see this concept map.


Newbies …

Profiles cannot be validated, neither by Google nor by moderators. Neither profile photos nor a note like ‘Attended University of …’ or working at ‘…’ let us know with whom we communicate. There are many bad guys on their way to compromise people or just sabotage well-organized communication. The experience of life and a look on the profile usually tells us quickly who is behind this attack.

In case of newbies (young or old) we all know that they make their faults because nobody can expect that they all read articles like

Google+ Activity Guide

before engaging in a social network.
So, what can moderators do to keep the fairness?

Well, members can be notified with a link to the above mentioned article.

In case of repeated misbehavior it’s up to banned members to share their thoughts privately with the moderator and discuss the issue. He then possibly can remove the ban if arguments and understanding are put forwards.

Summary …

Content networks like Google+ need active moderators who are prepared to forward their experiences and to act with clear notifications if necessary. Google+ offers many opportunities to improve knowledge, personality, and social intercourse. Moderators are responsible and in some way their job is quite similar to that of teachers.

Related links …

Google+ Activity Guide

Google+ Community Owner Guide

Google+ Etiquette

Ronnie Bincer, New to G+?

Google+ on iOS devices

I appreciate your visit on iNotes4You.

The Copyright

11 11 2013

Nothing attracts people more than photos or created images except the visible reality itself. Human beings always refer to images when it comes to understand things like the atomic model, to remember important and funny things in their life, or to get a first impression of new technologies.

The internet and social networks are overloaded with photos and images and their are some networks like Flickr totally based on presenting this kind of information.

Even if you start a Google Search there is an option to just show images Google retrieved from websites referring your search term.


What about the Intellectual Property Law enacted by most governments and valid in more than 160 countries around the world since 1886?

We all know -at least, most people know- that it’s illegal to put your name on someone else’s work and call it yours or sell it for your own personal profit; this is considered as a copyright infringement.

But the laws of copyright are nuanced, and the line between copyright infringement and so-called ‘Fair Use’ is a blurry one at best.

There are some questions we usually do not think about.

Is it allowed

  • to retrieve images from websites and present it on a search page?
  • to post images found in the internet via Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and other networks?
  • to use images copied from a Google Search on websites, blogs, or in posts?
  • to financially benefit from images created by others by improving the attractiveness of the own website?

The simple answer is: NO, it’s not allowed.

People might think that the internet is a ‘Public Domain’ and everything found there is free to use.
This highlights a common misunderstanding about what is meant by ‘public domain’ when referring to copyright work. A work will fall into the public domain once copyright expires.
While work published on the Internet may be publicly accessible, it is certainly not in the public domain.

For the period of copyright, the copyright owner has the following exclusive rights. None of the actions below can be carried out without permission:

  • The exclusive right to reproduce the work, though some provisions are made under national laws which typically allow limited private and educational use without infringement (Fair Use).
  • The right to authorise arrangements or other types of adaptation to the work.
  • The exclusive right to adapt or alter the work.

The author also has the following Moral Rights:

  • The author has the right to claim authorship.
  • The right to object to any treatment of the work which would be ‘prejudicial to his honour or reputation’.

From the point of view of people who share images there are a lot of questions coming up when going into the details:

  • How can I see that an image is copyrighted?
    The answer:
    In most cases you cannot see it and you simply have to accept that the creator must not set any copyright note to claim rights on his work.
    An essential note on Googles website ‘Images may be subject to copyright’ doesn’t answer the question. It’s a notification not helping anyone to decide about further usage of content.
  • Is it already against the law if an image is shared as a file but the creator is mentioned or do I have to ask the creator when doing so?
    The answer:
    It is against the law (with some exceptions mentioned under ‘Fair Use’) and you have to ask the creator.
    But this is in most cases far away from reality. Nobody would share an image if he first has to find out the creator and then ask for permission. To find out the creator is an unworkable task in most cases.
  • Is the copyright still valid?
    Most copyrights are valid for a limited time but the detailed regulation depends on laws of each country. So do I have to contact an attorney’s office with international experience to find it out?
    The answer:
    Copyright is valid for 50 years AFTER publishing. Commercial Internet service providers (ISPs) began to emerge in the late 1980s and early 1990s and was commercialized in 1995 by removing the last restrictions on the use of the Internet to carry commercial traffic. So add 50 years to 1990 and all what you see is copyrighted until at least 2040.

The general problem was mentioned by Mike Allton on Google+ when he asked:

If you share a picture to social media, is it copyright infringement?

Well, the comments are highly interesting but don’t give rules to normal people like me who did not study law. All search engines make it easy to copy images and share them. Some social networks like Flickr even invite people to share images without controlling any copyright infringements and so they support acting against well-known laws which is, in some countries, an infringement as well.

The Copyright …

The term already gives the explanation: the right to copy.
Sharing an image not using a link but a file (jpeg, png, or any other format) is what everybody would name a process of copying. The Berne Convention says that this is a copyright infringement. Dot.

A large legal limbo comes up when somebody modifies copyrighted images, uses them in a another context or in a collage for commercial or non-commercial purposes even if he bought a license for using it!

If it comes to a lawsuit judges have to assess the case and nobody really knows what the result will be.

It’s out of question that selling of images underlying the general rule of Intellectual Property is against the law. Definitely. But bloggers and members of social networks usually don’t use images for commercial purposes. Anyway, posting an image might be a copyright infringement.

So here are some facts …

The convention signed by more than 160 countries regulating Intellectual Property Rights is the

Berne Convention
for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works

That’s a really comprehensive convention which is hard to understand without an appropriate knowledge of juristic terms. So I extracted some basic content:

  • Copyrights are valid for a limited time depending on laws of each country but usually for 50 years after the first publishing. Basically every content whether it is an image or a textual work is seen as an Intellectual Property of the creator without any further notes pointing to any copyright laws.
  • An author from any country that is a signatory of the convention is awarded the same rights in all other countries that are signatories to the Convention as they allow their own nationals, as well as any rights granted by the Convention.

In case of images found in the internet people are usually not informed about any copyright. Even the website where the image was retrieved from is not a compelling evidence that the website operator owns a copyright.

It’s an act of honesty to forward a wallet to the police so that the owner has a chance to get it back. But what to do if the wallet doesn’t contain any documents about the identity of the owner? Even the wallet looks like a 08/15 wallet bought in a supermarket produced a million times in a developing country. You should give it to the police anyway but it cannot be stringently proved that the person claiming it back is the real owner.

So on my point of view it’s a general flaw of all laws and conventions not to persist on setting a copyright notice.

The consequence is that we see hundreds of thousands of copyright infringements daily.

Bounden duty …

It’s up to creators to do one’s bit and mark their own work as copyrighted. Otherwise they should know that their work is used by thousands of people not referring to him as the creator.

My personal opinion is that they have to bear part of the blame. There are a lot of easy to use techniques with which the authorship can be set. It helps website visitors and it additionally helps the creators to tell the world that ‘It’s me who did the artwork’.


I created this collage by using 4 images (mind map, head in the foreground, brain in the background, black arrow) I found in the Internet to visualize the main message which is about the benefit of a mind map.
Even if all images are copyrighted no court would say that my image is a copyright infringement.

Exceptions …

Under law, it is generally unlawful to distribute (or reproduce, publicly display, publicly perform, etc.) a copyrighted work without authorization from the copyright owner. However, there is a fair use exception ‘for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, . . . scholarship, or research.’

Courts examining whether a use is fair consider a set of four factors:

  • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  • the nature of the copyrighted work
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

A school teacher who hands out a copy of an image to students for discussing a topic is in the line of ‘Fair Use’.

But not all scenarios are so straightforward. When assessing the ‘purpose and character of the use’ for more complex scenarios, courts give significant weight to whether the use is ‘transformative’. If the secondary use adds value to the original this is the very type of activity that the fair use doctrine intends to protect for the enrichment of society. Anyway the creator of the original work should be named if possible.

The more transformative the new work, the less will be the significance of other factors, like commercialism, that may weigh against a finding of fair use.

See all the collages on my blog which I created myself.
They all add value to the original images and so the ‘Fair Use’ principle is complied with.
All the images use other images found in the internet but put in a new context where to possibly copyrighted material is just used to visualize something new in a context to my blogs. There is no focus on any of the possibly copyrighted images and additionally my blog is not for any commercial purposes.

Laying down the rules …

As I mentioned above the line between copyright infringement and so-called ‘Fair Use’ is a blurry one at best. So it’s recommended to carry out these instructions:

  • Don’t share an explicitly copyrighted image without a license.
    If you want to get a license first read the Terms of Conditions.
  • Don’t share an image which looks like artwork.
    Share a link.
  • If you use images for non-commercial purposes integrate them in a collage and add value. Additionally label the website where it was retrieved from.
  • If you are a photographer just share you own images.
  • Resharing of a copyrighted image does not prevent fraudulent use.

It’s always up to YOU to make sure that the image you have shared is within legal requirements for Fair Use. If you share an image you did not create yourself, you are liable. It dosent matter if you shared it from a page that shared it a zillion times, when it ends up on your post or page that responsibility now lies with you.

More questions? See this comprehensive overview about

Copyright Myths

Strange advices …

See this strange advice of Facebook regarding the copyright. It’s simply nonsense.
FB users should place this or a similar note on their account:

In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, crafts, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berne Convention).

Your copyright is already automatically attached to any intellectual property you post to Facebook, as Facebook itself acknowledges in its ‘Help Center and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities’:

You retain the copyright to your content. When you upload your content, you grant us a license to use and display that content.

Indeed, the Berne Convention, which governs copyright in almost every country, mandates that copyright be automatic; i.e., registration, or copied-and-pasted status updates, aren’t required.

Consequences …

The fact is, that if a publisher catches you sharing copies of their images still under copyright protection, they can charge you with that and take you to court. The amount of the fine that the judge orders you to pay may be less if you didn’t charge any money for the copy you distributed but it would be a fine, nonetheless.

Summary …

Create images by yourself following the ‘Fair Use’ principle and become a copyright owner. Set a watermark or a copyright if you want to tell the world that’s you who did it or tell the people that you don’t claim a copyright and give others decision support.

Create images by yourself using e.g. Apple’s app Keynote (part of the iWork suite) and add value to inserted other images. While creating an image referring to a post you again think about your topic. Summarizing a post by creating an image is a funny task. Try it out. For details please refer to my post

Collages with Apple’s Keynote

Be careful when sharing images without any copyright note. Name the source or just use a link. It’s obvious not to share images already marked with a copyright.

If you are not sure of doing an infringement don’t publish.

And by the way …

If you find a great image give the credit to the publisher if he is the creator also. Don’t feel a compulsion to share the copied material with the world again. Place a link to the authors source. Decent behavior in a social network is to give the credit to the creator and not claiming it four yourself. You know that Likes and +1 often are given to reshared content. Some people will recognize your unsocial behavior in the social network.

Related links …

World Intellectual Property Organization
Edudemic: Teachers Guide to Copyright and Fair Use

Thanks for dropping by.

By the way …
There are no copyrights on images I created here on my blog or on Flickr, Pinterest, or Google+. You may use all of them to your convenience. But please, don’t put your name on it.

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