Facebook Copy and Paste – JUST DON’T!

OK, I don’t mean never copy and paste, but there is a reason to only use copy and paste for certain things. Let me start off by saying I am always wary of things on Social Media that asks it’s “users” to do repetitive tasks…and there’s almost always a reason for it. Social media offers a perfect medium for spammers, hackers and technology terrorists.

I have had many friends make these kinds of posts (mostly Facebook), and these are the kinds that usually try and pull on your “heartstrings”, in other words they prey on you using the weakness of a sickness, illness, or “cause” that will encourage you to “copy & paste” a pre-written blurb and ask you to invite 5-10 of your friends to do the same. Some of my best friends have done this on Facebook, I’m sorry I just won’t do it. Yes, I feel guilty not supporting these friends, but that is the intention of these scammers and spammers. I won’t do it.

Recently, I saw a family member (actually a couple of them), and told them what my suspicions were over these “canned” posts asking to be “copy & paste”, then begging your friends to do the same. I told my family members what I thought was happening and encouraged them to stop doing it. If you know me, then you know I don’t like dealing in assumptions, and I decided to do a little research…sure enough, my suspicions were correct. There is indeed a nefarious reason for these “copy & paste” postings.

I actually found this statement in the Facebook forums section of their website. It states as follows:

Why do people ask you to copy and paste a Facebook post rather than sharing it?

If you use Facebook then you will have seen these posts.
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.

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. BEWARE!!

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 spelled 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 little gullible. You are now a target for a spammer 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 your thankful every day while being bless scroll down and type amen”
“how many likes can she get?”
“this baby still cute, scroll if your heartless”
“ignore if your heartless”
“keep scrolling if your 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 amen’s 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 pray 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 need you to type anything.

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 does 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 of Chinese Whispers, and the privacy settings of many users often makes it nigh impossible to track the original creator of a particular message.

This is a small 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 just because the posts says you should. If you feel strongly about a post, simply share it or edit it before posting. But always also remember to check if it is actually true first.

As a minimum, start by running it past Snopes.com or another fact checker of your choice and search for the original article.

Here are a few reasons you might copy and paste that could be legitimate:

  1. When you’d like to share a post but need to edit it for clarity or spelling.
  2. When sharing would compromise your friend’s privacy.
  3. When you want to add an image to the post.
  4. When you want to personalize a post.
  5. When sharing info about a business/group, and want to reach wide audiences.

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