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It was an open secret for some time that the notable content network known as FuckJerry had been stealing and selling content created by content creators on the internet for massive profits. However the internet was again ignited into a blaze when Vulture writer Megh Wright penned an article laying out all the details. Just how much FuckJerry was generating for this content certainly came as a shock, sometimes commanding 30-70k per post, but nevertheless most people in the “new media” landscape have been complicit.

It has been a big part of the “new media” playbook, and realistically if you dig deeper into other outlets that have a propensity to post memes and … Screenshots of memes, the pattern of content recycling and appropriation becomes clear.

We even just last week conducted a little experiment of our own to see what the metrics would be if we posted a video that we didn’t produce vs. one that we had. The results are telling:

The organic reach and engagement on this video of the manic keyboard player blew any of our original content out of the water.

Two really simple factors are at play here:

  1. You have already interacted with this video in some fashion most likely, even if it’s passive and you just scrolled past it, your likelihood of sharing or engaging with it is much higher because it isn’t something that is new.
  2. It’s amusing organically by its nature, granted we know this because it’s already semi-viral status at the time of posting. This is emblematic of the larger issue in the “new media” landscape. Our social media behaviors and even our organic preferences are biased towards this particular system or stealing and recycling content.

Where does that leave original content creators and individuals who come up with these jokes, memes and videos in the first place?

Well, mostly in the dark – there is a pretty good chance that if you regularly create content and have some level of visibility digitally, that one of these content engines like FuckJerry has appropriated your content.

This is why #fuckfuckjerry is just the beginning, or it at least really needs to be.

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Not only do we need to hold media outlets that appropriate content accountable – we need to hold corporations who give outrageous amounts of money to these outlets to appropriate content accountable. By default, they are complicit in this process.

“If your like, or follow is tacit approval of a media outlet as an individual and likes and follows are a metric to guide investment from advertisers, we need to become more aware what we are liking, following and sharing.”

No amount of regulations, thoughts and prayers, or oversight can change that system. It’s the masses that need to choose against, outlets like FuckJerry. Because in reality, there are a ton of other alternatives. Across the country there are diverse pockets of local media and content creators that often are creating some of the most hilarious material in your own backyard, sometimes coming at a great sacrifice and cost.

If #buylocal can be a thing, maybe #watchlocal and #originalcontent should be too.