Clicking “Share” on someone’s Facebook status is a lot easier than doing a “copy and paste”, but the Share button has limitations. The biggest restriction is the original user’s privacy settings. According to Facebook, if someone’s setting says the post can only be seen by their friends, then sharing the post will only show the content to your mutual friends. Sharing is largely only effective if the original post is on a public setting that lets anyone see it, regardless of whether or not they are friends with the original poster.
So when users call for people to “copy and paste” but not “share”, it is to ensure privacy settings are not preventing a message from being spread. If the goal is to get a piece of information to reach the largest potential audience, then copy and paste is the safest best.
Scam or Hoax?
Of course, not everything you see on Facebook that implores you to “copy and paste” something to your own Facebook timeline is a scam or a hoax. For example, a post may be trying to raise awareness to a particular issue, or it may be just a funny anecdote.
However many are indeed hoaxes or scams and it is easy enough to determine that a driving factor to imploring others to “copy and paste” something is to help it spread across social media. After all, if you “copy & paste” and then post that message to your own status, all of your friends can see it and when they in turn copy, paste and post it to their own timeline, all their friends can see it too, and so on.
But, why not click the share option instead, which has the same effect of posting it onto your own timeline?
Many of these viral hoaxes we see these days explicitly tell you NOT to share the message, rather will specifically instruct you to copy and paste it to your status.
The answer is that by copying and pasting a message, you are creating another instance of the message that is not dependent on the original. So if 5,000 people share a message by clicking Share, and for some reason that original message was removed (e.g. deleted by Facebook for being fake) then all those 5,000 “shares” will vanish. When the original post being shared is removed, so are all of its shares.
The same doesn’t apply if you copy and paste a message.
If 5,000 people copy and paste a message to their own timeline and the original gets removed, you still have 4,999 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.