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


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

  1. 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.

  2. “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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