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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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)

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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