So why do these posts ask you to copy and paste rather than sharing? And how can it be potentially scamming you?
When we see your friends post these statuses, most of us don’t question it and we agree to copy and paste rather than share, which is why these kinds of posts have now spread so far and wide.
Often these types of posts are just created by trolls spreading nonsense and misinformation, but there are more concerning reasons behind the ‘copy and paste’ request.
1. Friend restrictions
If you share a friend’s post, it may not reach as many people as it would if you had copy and pasted it, if their own profile has restrictions on who can see their posts. The original poster wants to message to be spread as far as possible, so encourages people to copy and paste it as their own so that more people see it and do the same.
2. To protect the identity of the original poster
If you share a post and the original post gets deleted, then it will disappear from your own timeline. But if you copy and paste the post and the original post gets deleted, it will not affect yours. This means the original poster can delete their post – their message still spreads but it cannot be traced back to them.
3. Self-selection for scammers
Some of these ‘copy and paste’ posts contain a phrase or misspelled word which is easily searchable for the original poster (and potential scammer). If people are sharing their message, they can search this phrase or word and find out who is posting their message. They can then target these people for further scams.
4. To get personal information
Many of the posts will encourage you to share certain personal information such as your name, the street you live on, your pet’s name, and so on. These are usually disguised as “Discover your superhero name” posts, possibly to avoid attracting suspicion. The original poster can then access this information, some of which may be used as passwords.
5. To clone your account
This is where things get really dark. You may have gotten a friend request in the past from a clone account, usually a clone of someone you are already friends with on Facebook. The people who create these are out to scam unsuspecting victims, sometimes using information found in these ‘copy and paste’ Facebook statuses.
6. Difficult to remove
Unlike a shared post, copied posts are far more difficult for Facebook to remove as once an original post is deleted all shares go too. Copied posts would have to be tracked down one by one which in practise is not really possible as often these posts get spread by many hundreds of thousands users.
The next time you see a post asking you to copy and paste, think twice before doing so. You can like it, you can share it, but avoid copy and pasting it as your own unless you know it’s safe.