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Amid a barrage of criticism and a bit of support on social media on Tuesday, top South African Instagrammer Skye Grove has literally deleted herself off the internet, after “owning up” to a plagiarism scandal as reported by Memeburn on Monday.
Posting on her official Instagram account to her 40 000-something followers, she wrote: “I would like to unreservedly apologize to the Instagram community as much as to the artists whose photos I used. I am sorry that I disappointed you. I have learned and will continue to learn. I would like to thank the countless of people who sent me messages of support. I understand the angry and condemning messages too. I will continue my own journey, both as photographer and as human being.”
Memeburn has now established that Grove’s Instagram account has been deleted, either removed by Grove herself or by Instagram for flouting copyright rules. Grove appears to have set up a new Instagram account, which has already attracted 17 followers, called “skygrovenew“.
On Instagram, Grove wrote earlier that she is “…owning up and the lessons that I learned are real and very hard-hitting. I realise that this has affected my reputation with many of you. I cannot turn back the clock but can only be honest about my own journey.”
For a long time I didn’t believe my work was good enough. I wanted to impress people with my photography but didn’t believe I was good enough. So, from time to time, I posted photos that didn’t belong to me but that I claimed as my own. The more I honed my skill, the more I became compelled to be true to myself. I have worked very hard on this. (On my photographic skills but most importantly to be true to myself).
Grove, who serves as Communications Manager for the Cape Town Partnership, appears to have also deleted her Twitter account and the various Facebook accounts she owned. Her profile at Cape Town Partnership however remains intact.
Memeburn published an article on Monday detailing the accusations of plagiarism, which prompted members from the online community to come forward with further evidence of the transgressions.
In her explanation-cum-apology, Grove referred to the Memeburn article that broke the plagiarism story, admitting that “some of it was true”, but then went on to say the article also contained “many inaccuracies”. Grove did not elaborate any further on what exactly these inaccuracies were.
Grove further claimed she “never made money from any photos that didn’t belong to me.”
However, an image has subsequently surfaced on Facebook user Louise Ferreira’s profile proving this statement to be false. The image shows two prints, by Flickr user Lulu Lovering’s image, Ocean Meets Sky, and the other is First Crack, an image belonging to the original Australian author, Adam Smith.
The caption on the prints read: “These beautiful prints by Skye Grove have arrived.”
Ferreira told Memeburn on Tuesday that these prints were in fact purchased from Grove earlier this year, in direct contradiction to Grove’s statement that she did not benefit commercially from any of the plagiarised images.
In the mea culpa Instagram post, Grove further claims that she had contacted all of the photographers whose images she plagiarised and apologised to each of them individually. However, Memeburn has established that this may, in fact, be false, as Smith had first got in contact with Grove when he noticed the unauthorised usage.
There has been a wave of criticism of Grove online, with many Twitter users expressing a mixture of shock, disappointment and some urging for restraint.
Some Twitter followers saw humour in the situation by posting a series of photographs they claim were taken by Grove that includes a photo of Neil Armstrong on the moon, a Nirvana CD cover, the Windows desktop image and National Geographic’s The Afghan Girl, amongst others.
— Zombie Phil (@Zombie_Phil) September 8, 2015
— JONO JEBUS™ (@byjono) September 8, 2015
— thatWallace (@thatwallace) September 8, 2015
— thatWallace (@thatwallace) September 8, 2015
Some of the other Twitter comments read:
“What was she thinking. We are a community we don’t steal from each other. How much of the work is her own?” – Lizane Louw @LizaneLouw
“If Skye Grove had any decency, she’d issue an apology on social media. Instead, she chooses to delete herself from the Internet. Unwise.” – jae @jaymeisterrr
“People in SA you don’t want to be: Unathi, Clive Naidoo, Skye Grove. ” – Reese Withoutaspoon @Reesiebabygirl
“Yes #skyegrove was wrong in plagiarizing but she has issued a heartfelt apology. Her own work is still beautiful and she remains my friend.” – Sam Woulidge @SamWoulidge
“No idea who Skye Grove is. Did a Google search and all I found was other people’s pictures.” – frostandfurious @Nick_Frost
“This Skye Grove scandal. It blows my mind that someone could be so stupid. And arrogant.” – Michelle @MadamMichelle
Image by Lulu Lovering via Flickr