If your Facebook feed looks anything like mine, you’re seeing more and more Facebook posts that include phrases like “copy and paste, don’t share!” Some of the posts even include instructions for people who don’t know how to copy and paste! But why is this becoming so common? Here are the 3 main reasons, for good or for bad, and a few honorable mentions of other risks of using Facebook in this way:
Here’s a video covering what I discuss below, for those who prefer listening to reading!
- SEO – S.E.O., or Search Engine Optimization, is a term people use to make sure their website shows up at the top of search engines such as Google when particular words or phrases are searched for. This same school of thought can be applied to Facebook’s algorithm, in order to keep a post showing up at the top of other people’s news feeds. As a post gets lots of shares, eventually the hype dies down and it filters to the bottom of the feed. If a person copies the text of the post and makes a brand new post, it will show up at the top of news feeds, assuming that your friends “haven’t seen this new post before.” It’s a way of ensuring a message is seen over and over.
- Deletion Prevention – If a post contains harmful or offensive material, Facebook will often delete the post. If you make a post and it gets thousands of “Shares” – it can still be deleted. When it is deleted, all of the shared posts that link back to it disappear, as well. By “copy and pasting” and not just clicking share, you safeguard your post from vanishing with the click of a single button.
- Harder to trace the source – as we’ve seen large upticks in the prevalence of “Fake News” in the last year or so, the ability to not be deleted in one click has been a boon to the spread of misinformation – but it also protects the sources of that same misinformation. Once it has been “copied and pasted” enough times, the original author can delete their post altogether, making it virtually impossible for someone to identify the source and debunk the post based on some kind of bias that author may already be known to have.
In addition to these, if you copy and paste something, it is very easy to take a phrase from the middle of that body of text, and search for all of the people who have shared that particular sentence on Facebook. It allows me to identify an audience, in essence tracking the people and the post and learning from that post what I can do to ensure future posts go “viral” as well. While the initial post may seem innocuous, such as a “copy and paste if your support our veterans!” – it can still be use to identify you and target you with something else down the road.
These posts often use emotional wording, as well, to ensure the maximum level of engagement. If you agree with something, I say the easier thing to do is always to just “click share.” Or, better yet, use your own words to show support for a cause or an issue! It never hurts to be an additional voice discussing something you believe in.
That’s not to say that some of these messages don’t get started by regular users like you and I, who just want a positive message in support of something to spread. It is absolutely possible that this message is genuine and can be taken just at face value. But the issue is that you just don’t know – because you can’t track the message back to the person who first posted it. Someone out there could be preying on your emotions, hoping that you’ll follow their instructions so that they can possibly target you for something more nefarious in the future. Don’t rule it out.
- I’m going to make a bet that in less than 1/2 of my friends put this on your wall. You just have to copy (not share)!!! I want to know who I can count on,…. Write “done” in the comment when you do.
- Ignore If You Have No Heart.
- Copy and paste if you agree.
- Hold your finger down to copy and paste. Please re-post with our neighborhood if you’re proud that you came from a close knit community.
- I hope every Christian who is offended will copy this and paste it to their status.
- To honor those who have fought or are fighting diabetes. 🙂 (Copy and paste, don’t share).
- Don’t scroll without showing respect.
- Could one friend please copy and repost (not share)? I’m trying to demonstrate that someone is always listening.
- I hope to see this on the status of all my friends. Don’t share, but copy and paste!! Hold your finger text and it will highlight, select copy, then paste it on to your own wall.
- Copy & Paste, please don’t Share. The MS society (Multiple Sclerosis) is asking if everyone could put this as their status for 1 hour.