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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

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

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

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