Why do people ask you to copy & paste a Facebook posts rather than sharing?

Why do people ask you to copy & paste Facebook posts rather than sharing?

If you use Facebook, then you will have seen these posts which end with “copy & paste, don’t share”.

Usually they relate to something that tugs at your heart strings, or it might be political or religious.  You read the post and then see at the bottom the line “don’t share, copy and paste”.


If you agree with the post and think others should see it, surely clicking the SHARE button is the simple option; it is what it is there for, after all.

So why did your friend ask you to copy and paste and not to share?
I bet if you ask them they will say they don’t know.
I bet they simply copied and pasted it from another friend, who also didn’t know why.

There is one suggested reason people ask you to “copy and paste” rather than share that you can find on a few sites if you google, but it is incorrect.  It claims that Facebook reduces the prominence of posts with lots of shares – it doesn’t. So that can’t be the reason for all these “copy and paste” requests.

However, clicking the SHARE button may carry audience restrictions.  If your friend was using the “friends” audience setting, then if you share the post you may not always be able to set it to PUBLIC.  Similarly, if your friend deletes the original post you shared, it may disappear from your posts too.
In this respect, it can be said that a shared post is less prominent that a copy and paste post, however, this is not the principal reason why those heart-tugging posts ask you to “copy and paste, don’t share!”

It should be fairly obvious that there are negative reasons for stating “copy and paste, don’t share!” so here are a couple I have found:


You are being asked to self-select yourself for something later.

When you simply share a post you like with your friends there is no way to track it further than your first share; no way to find out who else has shared it further on.

But if you copy and paste the post exactly, the potential future scammer can find you and target you.

Here is an example of how  the “copy and paste, don’t share” request works

There has been a “copy and paste” post going around recently about animal abuse. As well as the directive to “Do not share”  but instead “copy and paste” this, the post contains a key phrase with incorrectly spelt words.

A person who copies and pastes it can easily be found by searching Google with the operand  site:facebook.com “key phrase here” 

The potential scammer can now see a long, long list of Facebook users who have copied and pasted the exact message about animal abuse.

Now they have a target list of people who they can be reasonably sure will react to a new post, a new “like” request, a new friend request, or some other “support us” plea that is related to animal abuse.

So you have self-selected that you are someone who cares about animal abuse and who is also perhaps a teeny bit gullible (or so the scammer hopes). You are now a target for a scammer and you are likely to soon be asked for money for some supposedly related cause.

Of course, this can work for any subject.
Key phases to look out for run along these lines:

  • “don’t scroll without typing amen.”
  • “if you woke up this morning and you are thankful every day while being bless scroll down and type amen”
  • “how many likes can she get?”
  • “this baby still cute, scroll if you are heartless”
  • “ignore if your heartless”
  • “keep scrolling if you are heartless”
  • “Ignore If You Have No Heart”
  • “Don’t scroll without saying R.I.P”
  • “This is so sad type AMEN and lets see how many amens and likes he can get”
  • “Don’t scroll without showing respect”
  • “Please don’t scroll down without saying “Amen”
  • “Don’t Press Watch Without Typing Amen”
  • “1 like = 1000 prayers Don’t scroll without typing amen”
  • “Would You Save Your Mother? Type Yes Ignore NO”
  • “Do you trust in prayers? If yes so please pray for this baby take a minute and type “Amen” your one amen is one prayer if you don’t love children so you can skip this”

The “type Amen” posts are particularly prevalent at the moment, so avoid those and, if you do happen to be religious, say a little prayer to yourself asking God to help whoever the subject of the post is (they may actually be real and if they aren’t God will know) and also pray for the scammer that they might find a better cause – then move on.  God doesn’t really need you to type anything.


Another reason for the “copy and paste, don’t share” request is that by copying and pasting a message, you are creating another instance of the message that is not dependent upon the original.  (Credit http://www.thatsnonsense.com/hoax-posts-ask-copy-paste/)

If 5000 people share a hoax or fake news message by clicking Share, and for some reason that original message was removed (for example, deleted by Facebook for being fake!) then all those 5000 “shares” will vanish at the click of a mouse. If the original post being shared is removed, so do all of its shares.

The same doesn’t apply if you copy and paste a message, then post it. If 5000 people copy and paste a message to their own timeline, and the original gets removed, you still have 4999 instances of the message remaining on Facebook, since they are all separate posts, independent of each other.

Another reason, of course, is that it makes it harder to track down the person who started a hoax, since we’re all passing along a message in a digital game, and the privacy settings of many users often makes it impossible to track the original creator of a particular message.

This is a tactic often employed by hoaxers to help their posts remain on Facebook for as long as possible, and is most often the reason hoaxers prefer copying and pasting, as opposed to sharing.

In summary – don’t copy and paste posts on Facebook until you think for a moment about why you might be being asked to copy and paste.

If you feel strongly about a post, simply share it.
But always also remember to check if it is actually true first.
As a minimum, start by running it past Snopes or another fact checker of your choice and search for the original article.

Here is a wonderful guide to Facebook hoaxes and the perils of copy and paste requests with many examples of past hoaxes and the reasons they were created.


There are occasions when to copy & paste Facebook posts is appropriate, but that should be your decision.  Don’t just copy and paste because the post asks you to – consider why you are being asked.
If a post specifically asks you to copy and paste, they really should tell you the reason why they are making the request.

Here are a few reasons I can think of to copy & paste Facebook posts rather than sharing them that, to me, seem quite legitimate:

  1. When you’d like to share a post but need to edit it for clarity, spelling or grammar.
  2. When sharing would compromise your friend’s privacy (eg the post has their kid’s names in it or their locality).
  3. When you want to add an image to the post.
  4. When you want to personalise a post.
  5. When you are sharing information about a business or group that is important to you and you want to reach the widest audience.

I am sure there are other reasons; feel free to add them in the comments below.

copy & paste Facebook posts


133 Replies to “Why do people ask you to copy & paste a Facebook posts rather than sharing?”

  1. Having read this I thought it was extremely informative. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this article together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

    1. That video is talking about a quite different aspect. I am not referring to hacking of your account, but to targeting by spammers.

      1. I get a Copy and Paste request at least once a week!
        They specify “Don’t Share!”
        “Only my true real friends will Copy and Paste! After completing Copy and Paste, just type done and send to me.”
        I don’t know how to copy and paste, I spend so much time tryin

    2. As an Australian company, I’m surprised you didn’t recommend Hoax-Slayer–based right with you in Oz. Every bit as reliable or moreso than Snopes. As a volunteer “hoax-buster”, Hoax-Slayer is right at the top of my list of reliable sources, especially regarding Facebook. When I joined Facebook in 2008, Snopes wasn’t even on Facebook and wouldn’t be for a number of years. Hoax-Slayer’s been here all along, so I figure they’ve got the experience and the facts Snopes wouldn’t have. My opinion, FWIW.

      1. But snopes was around before hoax slayer so they’ve got that going for them. Does it matter where you are or how good your intel is? The latter, I still know how to use a browser.

  2. One legit reason to copy/paste is when you want to share a friend’s status post but the friend has the privacy set to “friends.” I post a lot of Bible verses and sometimes I get a notice where a friend has “shared” my post. Facebook has a link on the notice page saying “who can see this” and it assures me that only the original audience can see the post. Therefore, if someone “shares” my post, the only people who will see the “shared” post are our mutual friends. The sharer’s other friends will not see the post. If my friends want to share the Bible verse with their friends, they need to copy and paste.

  3. Excellent information! It always struck me as odd and probably not a good to idea to copy and paste, but I never thought about the”why”. I also just learned a possible reason for those top 10 concerts but one is lie memes floating around: with an email address as logon and “forgot password”, it gives a malicious hacking app a fair chance to guess the answer to a common security question (what was your first concert you ever attended?”) .

    I liked you article so much I copied and pasted it. Just kidding

  4. I’ve always wondered about this, too. It’s very annoying. I want to support causes, but have always thought this seems downright stupid. So it looks like the only major benefit, besides editing, is to reach the broadest audience. I still don;t get the commenting “yes” directive.

  5. Thank you for a well written article which is easy to read and understand for all. Another website to check for hoaxes is Hoax Slayer, my favourite.

    1. Thank you or this post that I can understand. I always wondered why people asked you to copy and paste and not share and now I understand. Thank you.

    2. I tried to check hoax slayer and it isn’t a website…am I typing it in wrong?? hoaxslayer.com??
      also, I NEVER use Snopes….. they get their info from Google just like us.

  6. Thank you for writing that article. I don’t usually “share” / copy / post… for some of the same reasons; but I hadn’t considered the tracking angle in detail…. very lucid and quite correct.
    Also, since I research most (not all) of what I see in that vein, I recommend snopes and factcheck.org as good resources.
    But, I am aware of clickbait. (catches me sometimes)

  7. Very well written and valuable information. Thank you for sharing this, I will be sure to share in my community!

  8. This is quite interesting. Usually I had trouble with the “copy & paste” directions, anyway. Sometimes I wondered about the emotional pleas also. I’m no longer a big fan of Snopes since learning how left-leaning they are (see how they responded regarding some of the LiveAction videos in regards to Planned Parenthood for an example of their liberal bent.)

    1. I would be hesitant if I’m reading “news” sources that promote the fact that Snopes is left-leaning. They have a tremendous body of work, and will offend you if you have strong feelings either left or right. That’s because they’re going to disclose stories you don’t agree with as truth , or stories you do believe as false. Check out mediabiasfactcheck.com to see the reasoning as to why they are listed as nonbiased.

      1. Thanks for correcting the slur against Snopes.com. They’ve been nonpolitically in the business for years, starting with the outing of guys who purported to bend spoons with their brains.

      2. I can’t like this reply so dropping a comment. Awesome response. Perhaps Snores should have a page about news stories on them if they don’t already? First I have heard of this though. I do wonder where the middle of the road guys are in politics?

    2. Snopes is a fact-checking site; neutral, neither left nor right leaning. You can always check politifact.com or factcheck.org. However, if you are dissatisfied with Snopes, thinking that they are “left-leaning”, then there is a good chance you will be dissatisfied with any reliable fact-checking source because instead of looking at the facts they present to you, you will interpret all of them as “left-leaning”, thus never to be satisfied.

      1. Snopes has been”off” quite a bit .. factcheck is pretty good. You do have to check your bias woth any of them though.

  9. Admin, I thought your article to be enlightening and I appreciated the explanations. I have been trying to relay this message to others for a long time, but you have done a far better job of explaining the “whys” of not C&P. Thank you kind lady for doing so. As for the grammar police, just ignore them and let them speak to the wind. While on the subject of policing, I certainly would not censor my creation to suit anyone. Thanks again and have a wonderfully blessed day. John

  10. same here. I have received two ‘copy & paste’ / ‘Don’t share’ recently & thought them odd.
    This article is great & I shall share t. But I do’t know how to ‘copy &paste’ a Facebook page anyway & would normally Share something I like.

  11. No. There are any executable programs in anything you’re cutting and pasting, unless you’re cutting and pasting actual code and compiling it somehow. As a programmer, i assure you, there’s nothing in anything you cut and paste like that. I’m not sure what it was you experienced but that isn’t the main concern with these. The indexing described above – key terms and other things – is a sort of programming in it’s own right. But not any sort of executable that’ll watch your keystrokes or whatever. FB alone is able to allow for other sites to track your movements on the web using it’s API, though. These copy/paste texts are not at that level. This is an excellent article, thanks. I’m sharing it immediately.

    1. I saw a “copy and paste–do not share” post that had something odd–a blue ball that was not plain text but would copy just the same. I could not duplicate but it would “copy” just fine. No idea what it was but it threw up a red flag in my mind–and I trust my red flags. Perhaps it was nothing more than a harmless emoji, but I always play the “better safe than sorry” game.

  12. Snopes has not been compromised. Snopes is called fake by right wingers who got tired of their silly, conspiracy theories being proven wrong. There isn’t a thing wrong with Snopes.

  13. Check Snopes – check Hoax Slayer – use common sense.
    I’ve been saying most of the content for a few years now tho I can get caught out on occasion but not re C&P.

  14. Presumably you want to share it so that your friends can see it, but many facebook users have their profile settings set so that only their friends can see what they post. If you “share” their post, only those friends you have in common will see your post and they already saw it. If you copy and paste it, ALL of your friends can see what you wanted to share with them.

    1. Exactly. This is the main (and, to my mind, the only) reason to copy and paste, rather than to just “share.” If the post I want to share is already “Public,” then there is no reason to “copy and paste,” since everyone I wish to see it will be able to see my “share.” I often edit out those “copy and paste, don’t share” instructions when I share (or copy and paste to share) a post, as I don’t believe in dictating to my friends how they should, or should not, share posts. If I do include it, I add an explanation.

    2. Just click on the post your friend has shared, which should take you back to the original, and Share from there.

      If your friend wrote the post and set it to friends only, then they don’t want it Shared beyond their own circle.

    3. Exactly! Some of my friends don’t understand this at all! My posts are all private to my friends, if they just share only our friends in common will see it. They also don’t get the concept of going to the original source to share from there to avoid the problem of my privacy settings.

  15. One reason for not copying and pasting is that it hides the identity of the author of the original post – it makes it look as if whoever reposts it is the author. This is a form of plagiarism – the authors of original writings should be properly credited for their efforts. Please don’t give others the opportunity to ‘rip off’ your hard work.

    1. I have a friend who is an author, and has recently written some wonderful poems relevant to today’s situation. He advised people not to ‘share’ because his settings were necessarily set to friends only, but gave permission for copy and paste. I did so, since my own settings are public and the poems can be easily shared from my page. And credited the author with a tag. That last bit is what makes the difference.

    2. Common courtesy, when you Copy and Paste personal comments:
      ASK AUTHORS PERMISSION, and whether they want their name to appear. I made that mistake a couple of years ago when I was a computer ”newbie” and upset a gentle lady whose comment I reposted. We’ve been FB friends since then though. If they don’t want their name to appear on a reposted comment, I file it (with the name) on my computer. If I was interested in one article from this author, might I not be interested in more? I’ve been following one young man for quite awhile, and have his permission to repost his very interesting comments.

    1. Nuala, to copy and paste ANY text, either on the Internet, using a word processing program, or an email program, use your mouse to highlight or select the text you want to copy; when it’s highlighted, press the Ctrl and letter C keys at the SAME TIME; that copies that text. When you get to where you want to paste it, either in your Facebook status, email or document, make sure the blinking cursor is where you want the text to go, and press the Ctrl and letter V keys at the same time. That pastes the text. This is universal, you can use it in search engines (is in, if you see a word you don’t understand, you can select that word, press Ctrl and C, go to your search engine like Google or Bing, type “define” and then press Ctrl and V, which then adds that word you copied, and hit enter, and you’ll get the definition. I use copy and paste for many things, but not on Facebook, unless a friend has done one of those silly personalized “getting to know me” run of questions and she wants me to respond (it’s always a female friend, never a guy friend), that requires a copy and paste. I hope this information helps you – happy computing!

  16. From the OED :
    past and past participle of spell

    Blogger clearly states they use UK Spelling, so most likely they use UK words too.

  17. However, you did spell something questionable that caught my attention. “Spelt” is a grain and the past tense of spell is spelled.

    1. Admin-
      I think your article was very informative. I have often wondered why someone would tell me I’m a horrible person if I scroll past without typing “AMEN” or why it is necessary for me to “COPY AND PASTE” when I can just share. I have come across some that even ask you to answer personal questions like “Put a check beside the states you have lived in before” or “How many times have you been married/divorced or have you ever been to jail, how many tattoos do you have”, etc. Most times at the top of these questions it will say things like “Let’s have some fun and keep this going” or “How well do you know your friends” and follow with questions they want you to answer about friends or family. It never really dawned on me that someone could be using this information to scam you or someone you are friends with. So thank you for the article!
      As for your spelling and grammar, I noticed you posted a message at the bottom stating that you are from the U.K. and use the spelling of words you have been taught to use and asked everyone to not comment on that, yet I see alot of people who decided to ignore that statement. They decided to post comments that had absolutely nothing to do with your article but criticizing the way you spell and speak. I would like to commend you for keeping your cool and staying completely professional when replying to these comments even after repeating yourself several times. So kudos to you and your awesomeness! (And for all the critics out there, yes, AWESOMENESS is a word!)
      Again, thanks for the information!!

  18. The forbes article is by a contributor, guest… no real relation to forbes. The utterly unprofessionalism of the very biased article (OMG he wouldn’t tell me about his personal divorce so he must be keeping public facts from us)… Learn to check info. The guy was kicked out of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications >>due to academic misconduct.<< Yeah trustworthy dude.

  19. A good article – worth the effort by the author and for others the effort to share accordingly (not c/p I hasten to add). Loving the arguments between the ‘..professional fact seekers..’ Before social media when we had newspapers (remember them?) irrespective of the political slant by each paper, it was very, very normal to hear ‘..you don’t want to believe everything you read..’

    It seems that social media acolytes have forgotten that bar, club, shop floor and water cooler gossip is just that – gossip. Unfortunately the same social media acolytes scream ‘..truth or lie..’ and share the gossip as fact – which it is from the click share/like opinionated – it’s just that the recipients then scream exactly the same ‘..truth or lie..’ and off it all trots onto the next one.

    Perhaps it would be more accurate to call social media what it really is ‘..social gossip..’ and to treat it accordingly. In the UK, Parliament are considering discussing fake news and alternative facts and how best to neutralise this threat. Dear lord – really? Since when does anything any government deliberates about protecting the general public end well? Answers not required, but if you must…

    Remember Caveat Emptor? Suggest Caveat Lector would be a sensible extension of such simple wisdom…

  20. Thank you for this article. I find it sad that the main thing most of the commenters have gotten stuck on is Snopes. I love Snopes. I trust it a helluva lot more than say… Breitbart. Anyway, to the context of the article. Most everyone is also not SEEING what you are trying to do (probably because they can’t get past what they don’t agree on) to help us keep ourselves safe on Facebook and more than likely other social media as well. STOP TYPING AMEN! Every time we type amen we are added to a database for that particular scammer and that database will be used later on to use our data for whatever scam they are perpetrating. STOP CUTTING AND PASTING! I saw the one guy said that if your FB privacy settings are “buttoned down” then you are safe. REALLY? Have they never heard of hackers? All this data that they get when you cut and paste their scam post goes right into their database and they can hack you whenever they want for whatever reason they want. BE SMART and stop trying to find things wrong with people that are trying to help you, like yourself, just because a small portion of their article might mention something you don’t agree with. Overall, very nice article and one I WISH more of my FB friends – who constantly type AMEN and cut and paste – would read and learn something. Your article is also supported by Facecrooks and Bitdefender. I share their stuff and will share this article as well.

  21. Nothing wrong with copying and pasting when it is your own choice to do so. This is really about why some poster ask you to copy and paste but not share.

  22. I’m glad someone has already picked up on the privacy settings issue.

    Another thing in your article that’s not entirely correct is that shares can’t be tracked. They can be tracked and are in fact designed to be tracked, page shares are tracked on Facebook Pages Insights!
    A copy & paste on the other hand can’t be tracked, if someone steals a post from a page by copy & paste, then the page owner cannot find out about this, unless indeed someone goes and uses Google in the way that you explain. However even that has it’s limits, once again, if your profile is locked down in privacy settings, it will be hard to find the post for anyone, because your profile is not publicly available to those outside your privacy settings. So I can go on your Facebook page, copy text, paste it onto my own timeline and you will be none the wiser because you don’t know I’ve been on your page and copied your content. If you Googled the post, you wouldn’t find me either because my profile is locked down and I don’t share much in public, most of my posts are shared with only my friends.

    Your article is going viral though amongst the Copy & Paste Mafia and is shared the world over, well done, a great marketing trick!

    1. Thank you for you comment about the page tracking, UKNic. You are correct – page admins can see the shares.
      And thanks too for the comment about privacy.
      I’m not sure if I will amend the article to add these points in or not. It might just over complicate the message a bit.
      I wasn’t actually thinking of marketing when I wrote this. I am a small web design business and only deal with businesses in my physical locality. It’s just too hard to design websites for people long distance and there is more than enough work here to keep me busy.
      Thanks again for the reply!

  23. Bullshit. Snopes is reliable, diligent in its research, and constantly updated, particularly when new information is found on a particular subject.

  24. That is true, Marcia, simply sharing may limit your audience, depending on the settings of your post and the setting of the original post.
    If the original post was “public” and you make the setting “public” then, unless your own privacy settings over-ride the public setting, even a shared post will be public.
    However, these “copy and paste” requests tend to ask you to “share with your friends” anyway. They don’t usually specifically ask you to set it to “public”. Or at least, I haven’t seen one saying that.
    And while it is perfectly ok to copy and paste to share an interesting posts from a friend who has limited their own audience, that’s not really the sort of malicious or fake-news post that I am referring to.
    Your policy of “Copy and Paste, and to change the post enough to make it my own” is eminently sensible.

    1. The only posts I copy & paste are those silly ones that ask you to put in your own answers to some silly questions from friends…then you can see everyone else’s answers too and laugh at them. Those are the ONLY ones I do that for. I have never been asked for money or anything afterwards, just because it isn’t that kind of post in the first place. Would those be okay to C & P?

    1. Sometimes people have found that Snopes says something they hoped was true is, in fact, false.
      Then they want to shoot the messenger.

      1. Haha – no, of course not.
        The article was actually about copy and paste requests. My advice to check on Snopes was really just an afterthought about making sure what you post is actually true.
        So I have seen no reason to update the original article.

  25. “Snopes is no longer reliable as a fact checker”

    I’m betting you started feeling that way when they posted items that were critical of someone you like (Trump, perhaps?).

    Of course, if you follow your statement to its logical conclusion, then all of the times that Snopes has debunked scurrilous rumors about Trump must also be “unreliable” — and therefore true.

    You can’t have it both ways. No medium is perfect, but Snopes’ articles tend to be well-sourced, which can’t always be said of ones that come from elsewhere.

    1. Snopes is currently the best source we have.
      I encourage people to join the Snopes Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/snopes/?fref=ts to stay up to date with the latest social media hoaxes and fake-news.

    1. I find that people who say that seem to have been embarrassed by someone pointing out that Snopes says something they have shared is fake-news.

      1. Sounds like a nice story Tim but can’t you give a link, or even a name for this supposed event? And as for maintaining that the Snopes owners are “so far to the left”, well a bit of research would reveal that that is untrue. Well untrue unless the opinion comes from someone so far to the right that anyone to the left of Atilla the Hun is a raving commie.

      2. And make sure the source is not an ultra conservative one also as they tend to believe what they want to believe and are not unbiased. I had someone pull that on me. I quoted something to her about the SNAP program from the official SNAP website and she disagreed by using ultra conservative sources.

    2. I think, as the article states, Snopes is a decent starting point. I start with Snopes as it is obviously a hub for these kinds of hoaxes, making it easy to find some information on the topic I’m researching. Though I would not go as far as to say Snopes is completely reliable or credible, they usually post sources that ARE. So I start with Snopes and then check out some of the sources they cite but I can also glean some other key phrases within their article to continue to search and verify. I do this, in part, because I simply find it interesting. I like doing some minor research on the web to either learn more about a topic or to debunk it and find out the actual truth. Some would find this too tedious and time consuming. In which case, simply don’t share if you are unsure!

    3. Because the racist right has declared snopes as unreliable. On the other hand, every major news source out there still uses snopes as the gold standard of fact checking. The fact checkers fact check each other, so if they all think snopes is the best, and the racist right thinks they need to ruin snopes’ reputation, that ought to explain why no one ever says why.

      You can fact check that info. I didn’t make it up.

      1. “Racist right”, is a very broad term, incorporating a lot of people. Can you offer a reference to back those claims up? Where did you find it out? Or did Snopes tell you that?

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