Facing allegations of plagiarism

An article I have written in March 2020 about how western vloggers misrepresent Pakistan is challenged by an anonymous parody account on Twitter, saying my publication would be a plagiarism. Actually, the text of my article and its documents are original ones resulting from my researches and from my personal writings. As far as the subject of the article is concerned, it is not an “idea” invented by the individual claiming its property on February 2020. It is a hot topic from years before. My article is a detailed contribution but it never pretended having created the concept under review. My concern, as a travel writer about Pakistan, was to bring my western vision and my experience about a deceiving propaganda organisation targetting foreigners. I also wanted to highlight the spoiling dimension of the system for Pakistani people producing media content.

Presentation of Ramla Akhtar, aka Rmala Aalam, plagiarism claim

Addendum: my other articles on the same topic.

1. What is plagiarism according to Medium ?

First, let’s remember what is plagiarism.

Plagiarism

Medium defines plagiarism as any act of taking the words and/or ideas of others and presenting them as original or without proper acknowledgement or permission. This includes directly copying ideas and text (whether entire articles, paragraphs, or sentences), as well as paraphrasing and slight re-writes (often known as “mosaic plagiarism”), and failure to cite sources.

Medium requires that the sources of quoted or paraphrased content potentially included under Fair Use be properly cited within posts. Proper citations of sources in any of the major systems of citations are welcome, and can be added using numbered superscript text formatting, or other appropriate methods.

Detected instances of plagiarism on Medium may result in suspension of posts or accounts, and having Partner Program payments withheld.

DMCA/Copyright Complaints

Medium deals with claims of copyright violation in accordance with the DMCA. To submit a DMCA claim, you must be the rights holder, or their authorized representative. Our DMCA & Copyright Policy contains additional information on filing a claim.

2. The anonymous and parody Twitter account @BestInventoryPR raises a plagiarism issue

Ramla Akhtar, aka Rmala Aalam, @GruAbuseArkive, tweet under @BestInventoryPR
@BestInventoryPR and plagiarism accusation

2.1. The text that would have been plagiarized as per January 19, 2022, @BestInventoryPR tweet attachment.

This is a February 16, 2020, Twitter post from the Pakistani account @BarefootRara.

Rmala Aalam, aka Ramla Akhtar, idea and plagiarism accusation
@BestInventoryPR and plagiarism accusation tweet. First attachment, @BarefootRara “copied” tweet

2.2. The alleged plagiarism as per January 19, 2022, @BestInventoryPR tweet attachement.

Ramla Akhtar aka Rmala Aalam, screen capture and plagiarism accusation
@BestInventoryPR and plagiarism accusation tweet, second attachment. The article on Medium

The @BestInventoryPR above attachment is a screen capture of my March 3, 2020, article on Medium.

The French version of this article was published on the public media Agoravox: Vlogueurs, Instagrameurs & Blogueurs présentent-ils un Pakistan en trompe l’oeil ? It got, there, more than 21,000 readers.

3. Did I get my inspiration from @BarefootRaRa post?

My concern about Pakistan and the wrong message shared by influencer is older than February 16, 2020

3.1. Was my text copied from @BarefootRaRa post?

I should admit that I totally ignored the Pakistani @BarefootRarRa post of February 16, 2020.

My text is an original one. I also documented it with personal researches and indicators. Even with just comparing the two attchments, it is obvious it is not copied from @BarefootRaRa post.

3.2. Did I wait for February 16, 2020 , @BarefootRaRa post to write about tourism in Pakistan?

I visited Pakistan mountain area in August 2018. In 2017/2018, while I prepared this travel, I could experience, by myself, how the “influencer” communication was useless. Only Alex Reynolds blog, « Lost with purpose », was of some interest (although it was subsequently revealed that she was twisting events and she reported unsupported allegations under the endorsed inspiration of @BarefootRaRa). I am not the only foreign traveler who observed that western female vlogs about Pakistan, though they enjoy a large number Pakistani male followers, are irrelevant. It is a fact. It is not an « idea », even if an urban wealthy old girl from Karachi, with no substantial travel experience, would like to pretend being the inventor of the concept.

I started to write about tourism and heritage in northern Pakistan as early as Autumn 2018, months before I heard about @BarefootRaRa, the author of a long conspiracy novel about the Wakhi community of Chapursan Valley (May 2019).

October 2018

This article was also published in “Passu Times”.

Its French version on Agoravox: Quelques réflexions sur le développement d’un tourisme responsable et communautaire dans la vallée de la Hunza, Pakistangot more than 2,700 readers.

March 2019

Its French version on Agoravox: Chapursan, quand la nuit de Zoodkhun dévoile l’univers got than 18,800 readers.

April 2019

This article was also published on “Pamir Times”

May 2019

Its French version on Agoravox: « La Karakoram Highway, prototype du schéma colonial de la Nouvelle Route de la Soie dans un Etat en perte de légitimité ? » got more than 2,600 readers.

January 2020

Its French version on Agoravox: “Les Wakhis, un petit peuple écartelé et cloisonné aux confins de la haute Asie Centrale” got 2,600 readers.

March 2020

This is when I was supposed to perform plagiarism by stealing an idea and a text from a @BarefootRaRa ranting tweet about tourism in Pakistan.

4. Could I have stolen the idea about influencers misrepresenting Pakistan from @BarefootRaRA post of February 2020 ?

Actually I already wrote in June 2019

Yes, there are questionable and narcissistic videos like the ones of Eva Zu Beckers (below).

Eva Zu Beck video about Pakistan

There are also some blogs where pictures show that Pakistan is just the background as is the one of “Rosie Gabrielle, A Canadian Biker Visiting Pakistan, Is Falling In Love With The Country, One City At A Time”. But it would be to be a mistake to make a general rule from interpreted, isolated and distorted cases... There are foreign ladies actually traveling independently in Pakistan without “security and a team of male guards who remain out of picture in fake bloggers’ reviews”.

5. Even from Pakistani authors, misrepresentation of Pakistan by foreign influencers is not an original point which would have been raised by @BarefootRaRa on February 2020.

On October 2018, I wrote:

Nowadays, there is no updated travel book for Pakistan and Hunza Valley. The «Petit Futé», in French, is almost empty. The «Lonely Planet» guide is an old and obsolete one. Interesting events like Passu Face Mela, Baba Ghundi Festival, polo matches, cricket matches, buzkashi games, concerts… are not announced to foreigners. Today, for basic information, travellers need to collect “documentation” on different Facebook pages, without been sure they are not missing the most interesting spots and people… Hunza Valley should have an actual tourist office, independent from commercial tourist firms, maintaining a website collecting all available resources: accomodation, local guides, transportation, maps, trek itinearies, heritage, schedule of events all over the year, visa requirements and support, NOC information (see below, §8), weather and snow reports, security reports, road and passes conditions…

Thought I observed the foreign vloggers were of no interest for planning a trip in Pakistan, I recognize I did not push until full development of the concept. In my paper facing plagiarism allegation Can we believe what travelers say about Pakistan? Are they accurate, fair and independent?. I followed Medium recommendation.

Medium requires that the sources of quoted or paraphrased content potentially included under Fair Use be properly cited within posts.

The issue of media people misrepresenting Pakistan is addressed on line for years. It culminated with Islamabad tourism summit of April 2019, where only foreign vloggers were invited. I posted links in my paper to the articles presented below and I credited their authors with the conceptualisation of the issue

April 15, 2019

Why travelmedia is dangerous for Pakistan

April 24, 2019

…critics warn their rose-tinted filters are irresponsible and sell an inaccurate picture of the conservative, militancy-scarred country..
“All this ‘Everything is wonderful in Pakistan’ is just irresponsible,” reveals June, an indignant 51-year-old Briton.
“It kinds of makes me angry to have white people represent us. We are not completely done with our post-colonial hangover,” says Zaman.

The issue is still a hot topic. See this November 2020 article on the Guardian.

Zu Beck posted vlogs to YouTube from Pakistan’s major cities. Her follower count grew exponentially, driven mainly by viewers within Pakistan. One video she posted to Facebook in August 2018 has been viewed 1.5m times…

..Although people offering practical guides to travellers had an obligation to address security questions, she (Eva Zu Beck) said, that wasn’t the kind of content she was making. “People have this idea that I make vlogs in order to promote tourism destinations,” she had told me when we first spoke. “That idea is wrong. My videos are not travel guides, and they are not practical pieces of advice. They are stories. That’s all they are.”…

6. The plagiarism accusation is more complexe than it looks like at first sight.

The @BarefootRaRa’s post of February 2020 does not evidence any text or idea plagiarism of her production. I consider that @BarefootRaRa and/or @BestInventoryPR claiming property of the idea developed (which is actually a widely documented fact and evidence) is a farce. I am shocked that an individual could claim the property of an “idea” almost one year after it has been widely shared as an important issue in its business sphere. But there is more to come.

6.1. The Twitter account @BarefootRara said to be victim of plagiarism is an anonymous cyberstaling account.

To file a DMCA notice, a plagiarism complaint, you have to prove you are the owner of the text or the idea that has been copied. Before considering the relevance of the plagiarism accusation, it is important to prove you exist. Let’s remind that @BarefootRaRa is an anonymous account intended to hide the identity of the person managing it because of its cyberstalking dedication. How can you claim a property when you simply have no identity ?

@BarefootRaRa also attacks the Pamir Institute

6.2. The Twitter account @BestInventoryPR reporting the alleged plagiarism is, by itself, a plagiarism account.

The Pakistani impersonating account @BestInventoryPR copies the name of the French company Best Inventory. http://bestinventory.eu

Best Inventory website
Best Inventory website, http://bestinventory.eu

The Pakistani impersonating account @BestInventoryPR copies the logo of the French company Best Inventory.

Best Inventory company logo and BestInventoryPR logo -> plagiarism

Read:
DMCA complaint against @BestInventoryPR

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Photographer, writer, contributor to French & foreign media: culture, history, heritage, geopolitics — https://bernardgrua.nethttps://pamirinstitute.org