Listicle

16 Examples of Misleading (or False) 'Copypasta' Messages

This type of post asks people to copy, paste and share text — and doesn't always relay the truth.

Published Feb 26, 2023

 (Getty Images)
Image Via Getty Images

We often receive emails asking us to fact-check "copypasta" messages going viral online. These are claims that spread by being copied and pasted on Facebook or other social media platforms, and don't always contain facts.

Often, these copypastas will ask to pass along information that otherwise you wouldn't know, or claim to have a solution to a worrisome issue. Ultimately, though, the messages have no other goal than to trick or embarrass the people sharing them.

Here are 16 misleading — or outright false — copypasta messages that have spread across social media since 2020, capturing the attention of Snopes' fact-checkers.

(The entries are ranked in no particular order, and contain excerpts from Snopes' archives.)

1
One copypasta falsely claimed Kamala Harris was a "marxist by association."

Before the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in January 2021, a popular copypasta alleged she had "Close Ties with Marxists, Communists, Maoists, and Socialists." The false assertion drew on "guilt by association," a logical fallacy that casts people in a negative light by associating them with others considered to have done something wrong. (You can read the full story here.)


2
Copypasta helped spread the false claim that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. won a Supreme Court case against mandatory vaccination.

Posts that spread in March and April 2021 falsely claimed that "the Supreme Court overturned universal vaccination," a "big victory for freedom in the United States." The Supreme Court has never ruled on "universal vaccination." The social media posts were a combination of misleading claims from an anti-vaccine group's 2018 settlement of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit and a copypasta that went viral in October and November 2020. (You can read the full fact check here.)


3
This copypasta helped a false claim about the mother of an Uvalde school shooting victim go viral.

The mother of Uvalde, Texas, school shooting victim Amerie Joe Garza did not write a now-viral poem in June 2022 that began with, “The chicken soup in her thermos stayed hot all day while her body grew cold.”

This copypasta message was an example of glurge content — inspirational and (supposedly true) stories that people share on social media to boost their engagement and popularity. (You can read the full fact check here.)


4
This viral copypasta spread inaccurate information about gas prices.

In June 2022, a post was frequently copy and pasted claiming to expose the "truth about gas prices." The post contained several misleading or inaccurate statements about oil prices. In general, its underlying claim — that high gas prices are "Joe Biden's fault because he is suppressing the domestic oil industry for political gain" — was mostly false. (You can read the article here.)


5
A viral copypasta falsely stated that the NAACP warned of violent white supremacist initiations taking place "this weekend."

In early July 2020, a false message about violent white supremacist initiations happening "this weekend" began spreading on Facebook. The alleged warning was attributed to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The organization said it never issued any such advisory. (You can read the full fact check here.)


6
Copypasta falsely attributed a nonsensical quote starting with "goats are like mushrooms" to President Joe Biden.

After the 2020 presidential election, viral images falsely attributed this quote to Biden: "Goats are like mushrooms. Because if you shoot a duck, I'm afraid of toasters."

But he didn't say that. The piece of copypasta had been circulating online since at least 2012, when it was first shared on Reddit. It has gone viral on multiple occassions, and has also been used as a senior quote in high school yearbooks. (You can read the full fact check here.)


7
This copypasta about the "Star of Bethlehem" got people's attention around Christmastime.

In December 2022, a copypasta post that claimed the "Star of Bethlehem" would soon shine for the first time since the year 1226 went viral. The message was first posted two years earlier, in December 2020. It referenced a real celestial event: when Saturn and Jupiter crossed paths to create what appeared to be a very bright star. (You can read the full fact check here.)


8
A copypasta meme spread an unsubstantiated quote about an alleged "depopulation plan."

In July 2022, a copypasta meme attributed this quote to Russian President Vladimir Putin: "I will make public the depopulation plan that the United States and Europe have prepared."

The posts circulated widely without citing sources, or stating when or where the remark was allegedly said. We found no evidence that Putin made the statement.  (You can read the full fact check here.


9
Copypastas spread misleading information about Homeland Security memos and "hacked" cellphones.

In March 2022, we looked into two viral Facebook posts that said "cellphones are being hacked" and that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told U.S. citizens to take certain precautions — such as "keep your fuel topped off" — in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

There was some truth to the posts. The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency had reportedly issued guidance specifically to "federal agencies and large organizations" to prepare in case of a Russian cyberattack. 

However, the viral copypasta posts were also very misleading. For example, Homeland Security did not issue a memo to all U.S. citizens to "keep your fuel topped off" due to the war in Ukraine. (You can read the full fact check here.)


10
In 2020, a copypasta spread a false rumor about Democratic lawmakers reaction to the pandemic's impact on the economy.

Just months after the start of the U.S. COVID outbreak, a message spread on Facebook, Twitter, and random websites in May 2020 claiming that Democratic lawmakers were "giddy" over the economic fallout during the pandemic. The message began, "Spoke with a friend of mine who works in DC." The message appeared to be little more than a social media hoax, and did not name that "friend" nor the text's author.  (You can read the full fact check here.)


11
One piece of copypasta misattributed a lengthy quote to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In May 2021, a viral social media message claimed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a 24-hour ultimatum to Hamas in a recent speech "in front of the Knessnet." That was not true. The piece of copypasta had been falsely linked to the Israeli prime minister since 2014. (You can read the full fact check here.)


12
Copy-and-paste messages often spread misleading information about diesel exhaust fluid shortages.

Beginning with "Pay attention, please," a post claimed railroad company Union Pacific was placing an "embargo" on a travel center operator, which would drastically reduce the number of rail cars the operator could use to ship diesel exhaust fluid for its truck stops. That was a misleading interpretation of facts. (You can read the full article here.)


13
A false claim that Biden revoked funds for Historically Black Colleges and Universities spread from copypasta.

In early February 2021, a copypasta meme spread that President Joe Biden revoked $250 million in federal funding that former President Donald Trump supposedly promised to give a nonprofit benefiting Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The claim was false. The charity is a private organization that receives money from donors — not the federal government. (You can read the full fact check here.)


14
In 2020, a fear-mongering copypasta meme claimed that then-President Trump was going to "tactically" implement voter interference sanctions.

Shortly after the 2020 presidential election, a message spread on social media warning "patriots" that then-President Trump was about to "tactically" implement elements of an executive order on election security signed in 2018, telling them to have weapons "at the ready."

But that was a false interpretation of what the 2018 executive order allowed. That order — signed less than a month before the 2018 midterm elections — was meant as a deterrent against foreign election interference. (You can read the full fact check here.)


15
This old copypasta about an "11 year old who shot illegals" has resurfaced on multiple occassions.

"Montana Girl, 11 YR OLD WHO SHOT ILLEGALS," begins a copy-and-paste message that has circulated on social media since at least 2007. "Thanks FOX NEWS for reporting it."

The post claims an 11-year-old Montana girl stopped a home invasion by killing two armed undocumented immigrants, and that Fox News reported on the story. However, there's no evidence that that ever happened. (You can find the full fact check here.)


16
A copypasta message falsely claimed that anesthesia could kill people who received the COVID-19 vaccination.

A copypasta we traced back to June 2021 falsely claimed a vaccinated person "must wait 4 weeks after being vaccinated" before using anesthesia.

There was no truth to that claim. The American Society of Anesthesiologists confirmed that there was no evidence that either the virus or the vaccines interfere with anesthesia. (You can find the full fact check here.)


Izz Scott LaMagdeleine is a fact-checker for Snopes.