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New tool allows readers to identify plagiarised content

Richard Bell

Highlighting the increasing need for websites to ensure they are delivering top quality content, a new mobile tool from a U.S. developer allows users to identify duplicated portions of text.

With the tool, developed by the Washington DC-based Sunlight Foundation and apply named Churnalism, users are able to see if the digital content they are reading has been directly lifted from existing company press releases. Users can simply paste in either the URL for the site they are looking at, or excerpts of its text.

The Churnalism tool uses SuperFastMatch and compares text to a vast database of press releases from big companies and U.S. government organisations, as well as articles from the national press in the UK, the BBC and various other sources.

The tool then shows the user any excerpts of text that have been lifted word for word, or near to it, from a given source.

Kaitlin Devine, who is a web developer at Sunlight Foundation, told Digital Trends:

“So far we’ve steered clear of adding traditional news content to the search corpus because of cost and licensing restrictions on this content. Also, because a lot of online news is a re-syndication of wire stories, the matches may not be very useful to the user.”

When asked if the organisation will make Churnalism available for mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets – at present, it is only available in desktop extension form or on its website – she said Sunlight Foundation had no immediate plans to develop the tool for mobile use. However, she said it may be considered if it looks as though a demand exists for an app version.

The tool’s developer, Sunlight Foundation, exists as a non-profit organisation founded with the aim of encouraging greater government transparency.

Richard has a First in English Literature and Creative Writing, and has experience writing fiction and short stories (which he has published both online and in magazines).

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