Fact Check

'Here's How To Bypass the System' Post Is a Facebook Hoax

The Facebook hoax that never ends often brings a fair share of users who misunderstand the platform and claim, "It works!"

Published Aug. 17, 2023

Facebook and WhatsApp logos are displayed on a mobile phone screen for illustration photo. Krakow, Poland on January 23, 2023. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Image Via Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Claim:
The act of copying and pasting a block of text into a new Facebook post can "bypass the system" that limits the number of friends' posts that appear in your News Feed.

In August 2023, Facebook users copied and pasted a boilerplate message into new posts about how to "bypass the system" to thwart an "algorithm" that purportedly "limits posts on your News Feed" to "about 25" friends.

The text of the post claimed that "it works," something that was echoed by numerous commenters.

In this story, we explain why users were making this false claim. We also take a look back at the time that Facebook directly addressed this very same hoax, calling it a "myth."

'Here's How to Bypass the System'

One of the more popular versions of the viral post read as follows:

I would like to thank Everyone for telling me how to do the bypass. I wondered where everybody had been!

This is good to know: It's ridiculous to have over 540 friends and only 25 are allowed to see my post.

It WORKS!! I have a whole new news feed. I'm seeing posts from people I haven't seen in years.

Here's how to bypass the system FB now has in place that limits posts on your news feed.

Their new algorithm chooses the same few people - about 25 - who will read your posts. Therefore,

Hold your finger down anywhere in this post and "copy" will pop up. Click "copy". Then go your page, start a new post and put your finger anywhere in the blank field. "Paste" will pop up and click paste.

This will bypass the system.

If you are reading this message, do me a favor and leave me a quick comment...a "hello," a sticker, whatever you want, so you will appear in my newsfeed!

I'll see if this works.

Basically, no, copying and pasting a block of text into a new Facebook post does not "bypass" any "system" or change the website's "algorithm," as we've repeatedly reported in past years.

'This One Actually Works!'

In our research for this story, we noticed some online users who claimed, "This one actually works!" This claim brings with it a misunderstanding of preceding events, kind of like the scene from the U.S. version of "The Office" in which Dunder Mifflin Regional Manager Michael Scott and Assistant (to the) Regional Manager Dwight Schrute both yell in celebration, "We did it!," then moments later appear puzzled at how a goal had been accomplished.

The viral post makes a request of users that says, "If you are reading this message, do me a favor and leave me a quick comment...a 'hello,' a sticker, whatever you want, so you will appear in my newsfeed!"

Just like with any kind of Facebook post, if a friend responds with a like or a comment, those two people might then be more likely to see each other's posts in News Feed. In other words, it's the engagement with likes and comments – not the "bypass the system" copy-and-paste post – that would potentially drive friends to the top of one's News Feed.

For example, Bob could post, "I like turtles." If Tim likes the post or adds a comment, Bob and Tim might then be more likely to see each other's posts more often at the top of News Feed. This change would have nothing to do with the fact that the post was about turtles.

RELATED: Can Some Turtles Breathe Through Their Butts?

Facebook Called It a 'Myth'

In 2019, Facebook addressed the "bypass the system" posts.

"Copy-and-paste memes — those blocks of text posted on message boards, forwarded in emails and shared via social media — are as old as the internet," the company wrote.

The article continued:

A recent example started popping up in late 2017 and continues to see the occasional bump in shares. This meme claims that Facebook's "new algorithm" is limiting the number of people whose posts show up in your News Feed, usually pegging the number at just 25 or 26 people. Readers are directed to comment on the post, which will supposedly "bypass the system" so that their posts show up in the future, and then copy and paste the text on their own Feeds.

...

So, to clear things up: No, Facebook does not set a limit on the number of people whose posts are shown in your News Feed.

Facebook's article then went on to explain how the News Feed works, including pointing out the fact that, if a user continued to scroll down for more than just a few seconds, they would see many posts from far more than the "about 25" friends that was claimed in the viral post.

The Hoax That Never Ends

On one hand, these kinds of silly copy-and-paste "here's how to change the algorithm" Facebook posts show mankind's ongoing susceptibility to falling for online hoaxes – despite the fact that such myths have been continually discredited by articles from a seemingly countless number of publications – the kind of stories that are accessible to everyone using Facebook.

On the other hand, it's interesting to consider the fact that something that does not work ends up at least possibly achieving a small part of its stated goal because of scores of users getting together to engage with each other under the posts after being directly asked to leave a comment – even if they don't seem to understand why it had happened.

Sources

"Branch Closing." Dunderpedia: The Office Wiki, https://theoffice.fandom.com/wiki/Branch_Closing.

LaCapria, Kim. "Does a New Facebook Algorithm Only Show You 26 Friends?" Snopes, 6 Feb. 2018, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/new-facebook-algorithm-26-friends/.

Liles, Jordan. "Facebook Hoax Promises Way 'To Regain Friends and Get Rid of Ads.'" Snopes, 20 Oct. 2022, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/facebook-to-regain-friends/.

---. "The 'OO5251839' Post Doesn't 'Circumvent' Facebook Algorithm." Snopes, 2 June 2021, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/facebook-oo5251839/.

"No, Your News Feed Is Not Limited to Posts From 26 Friends." Meta, 6 Feb. 2019, https://about.fb.com/news/2019/02/inside-feed-facebook-26-friends-algorithm-myth/.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.