Why You Should Not Share Recipes On Facebook

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It seems that lately, page after page is popping on Facebook and they have these absolutely AMAZING recipes.  You read it and think it looks so absolutely delicious that you want to share it with your family and friends.  Before you hit that SHARE button, read why you should NOT share it.  Or, at least why to not share it in the way you think you should.

You see, these pages are stealing recipes left and right.  Not only are the stealing recipes, they are stealing images.  They are actually bold enough to cut out watermarks and other wording in these images in an attempt to pass it along as their very own.   Now, it is one thing not to know you should not do this, but if you are taking the time to eliminate any watermarks, you clearly know you are stealing.

What does it hurt if I share something?  I mean, it’s not intentional.

First and foremost, it is theft.  Theft is taking something that is not yours.   Plain and simple.  Sharing, in general, is not theft (there are times when it could be, but we won’t get into that here).  If you share a recipe through a platform or format other than the original source (aka link to the blog or website), you are in fact posting stolen content yourself.  You can be liable for this content on your page.  In fact, if you are caught posting such content, the original owner can report you to Facebook and your page could be shut down as a result.

Secondly, you think it doesn’t hurt anyone.  Do you know how long it takes to create a recipe, make it, photograph it, do a post, edit, and redo it before you publish it?  It can be hours and hours of work.  For someone to hit copy and paste and try to pass that along as their own is hurtful to bloggers.

Let me try to explain this by giving you an example.  What would you do if you posted a photo of your child, grandchild (or anyone else for that matter) and a few weeks later, you found it posted on other sites as a model for a magazine of which you didn’t approve?  Or, the company uses it in print and profits from it – without your permission?  You would probably be absolutely furious and do what you could to take care of it.

This is the same for bloggers and site owners.  Their “children’s photos” (aka recipes and posts) are being taken and used without permission. These other pages and sites end up profiting from them (one of these scrapping sites had the nerve to publish a book and profit based upon stolen recipes).

So you see, it does hurt.

How can I tell if I can share it or not?

You might be on ABC Amazing Stories page and see an image that clearly reads Mom’s Smart Ideas as the water mark.  That is a huge red flag that they may have stolen content.  If they include the entire recipe and/or post (regardless of whether or not they give reference to the original site), it is theft.  If you see that, do not share the recipe or post.

You see, people who share the right way, might grab the photo and share it, but they will also say “visit ABC blog” to get the recipe.  They will not take the details and post it on their page. They know that they don’t have the right to share those details without permission.

The reason these sites do this is that they want it to look like they have all of these amazing recipes.  They want people to think that their page needs to be shared.  That could not be further from the truth.

Here is a great image that Moms Mad House shared with me today (used with her permission, of course).  This is a way to look at the post and things to search for to help you more quickly identify these stolen recipes and posts.



What can I do about it?

If you see a recipe you love and aren’t sure whether you should share it or not, do this.  Go to Pinterest and do a search for the recipe title.   I bet that within a few seconds (most of the time for me less than 2 minutes), you will see that exact same image pinned.  You can click through the pin to go to the original source.  The blog or site usually includes some sort of a share button on the post.  If they don’t, you can copy the URL and past it in your status update to share it that way. Your 30 seconds of time saves a lot of headache and helps share things in the proper way.

Why don’t you just tell these sites to stop?

People have tried.  The bloggers and site owners are being told they are unreasonable (and have even been threatened in some cases).  According to some of them, it is unreasonable to be angry that your content was stolen.

I have heard the comment “if you don’t want it stolen, don’t post it in public.”  I don’t buy that.  We ALL know stealing is wrong.  Just because it was posted online does not mean it is public domain and you can use it as you see fit.  Nearly every single site includes copyright disclosure. That means you can not use it without permission.  Permission is being given via the sharing buttons – not to copy the post and pass it off as your very own.

I know it seems like a headache and some might say I am biased.  Yes, I am.  Having your time and money stolen from you hurts.  Strike that – it makes you angry.  Remember that sharing a stolen post is no better than someone sharing your personal images without your permission.  Theft is theft no matter what it is — and it is wrong.



  1. Tiffany says

    Thanks Tracie, I wondered about this and knew it seemed strange. I won’t be sharing any recipes anymore! This is just WRONG!

    • Tracie says

      You are very welcome! There are good site which share them the right way, so I love helping them out….but the others. They are the ones we all need to watch for.

  2. says

    I just saw this post on FB and I am so glad I clicked over to read it. I have been watermarking my blog photos, just so people can’t steal them. It just isn’t cool. I find it amazing how people justify behavior in the online world that they wouldn’t justify IRL, like stealing or cheating or being nasty. I actually wrote a post for Wednesday about how to win giveaways and emphasized not cheating. You wouldn’t think that would have to be necessary, but it is. Sad, isn’t it. Anyway, thanks for your words.=)

    • Tracie says

      It is so sad that I had to even do this post. I don’t put in nearly the efforts some do, and it makes me upset for those who take the time that they do and it is just stolen like that.

      Education is what we need here and people need to know why it is wrong.

  3. Rosie says

    Thanks for clearing this up. I had been curious why so many recipes were being shared on facebook lately. Seems to me it has just been in the past six months. I sure understand not wanting your hard work shared and passed around without your knowledge. I had a minor thing happen in a similar way. I posted a photo I had taken in my new city. A few days later, my photo showed up on someone else’s page, then as her ‘cover photo’. I asked as gently as I could without sounding pushy where she got the picture, but she never answered. If that had been copyright work, or something I had really worked hard on, it would have really upset me. As it was, it was just kind of curious why she chose that particular picture to use.

  4. stinkypete says

    Did you ask Facebook for the rights to use this ubiquitous (but certainly trademarked and not public domain) logo? 😉

  5. says

    I haven’t noticed this with recipes but I have heard of a blogger copying posts word for word and posting as their own. A large group of bloggers made this publicly known and she/he is blacklisted. Anyway this is why I watermark my photos. It takes 3x’s a long to complete a post but I know it’s protected. Also put the watermark in the middle. If it’s a large photo repeat it.

    • Tracie says

      There are things that you can try to do and sadly, some sites do not care at all who they hurt in the process. Perhaps when people find their own kids or personal photos on sites they don’t want, then they will sit up and take notice.

  6. says

    I just recently posted something similar to your message on my blog’s Facebook page. Believe it or not, it has been the most shared, most commented, and most viewed post EVER. There were some negative comments left for me, but most people were supportive or just had no idea. Thanks for helping to get the word out.

  7. somebody says

    I saw this on a friend’s facebook page, and I have to say, this is a little absurd. Stealing recipes? While I agree that individuals shouldn’t share a photograph without appropriate sourcing, because of the owner’s artistic right to that content, you don’t really have that same right with a recipe. Who’s to say that you are an owner of recipe? Who is to say that you are the 1st person in the world to combine those ingredients together? There is no trademark, copyright, or other protection that prevents someone else from using your recipe. If an individual wishes to keep their recipe private, they shouldn’t post it on the internet, period. Otherwise, it’s fair game.

    • Tracie says

      The content is on their page which states all content on that page is covered under copyright law. PROTECTED CONTENT. It means you can not reproduce any part of it without permission. That includes all of it.

      It seems that people think it is OK, until it happens to them. If someone steals your photo, I am sure you will yell, but as long as they steal another person’s information, it is just fine.

      I also recommend that if you feel that it is OK to steal content, then own it. Use your name instead of leaving anonymous comments on a website.

      • somebody says

        Again, I have to raise the question of, who says you own it? I understand that blogs gain revenue from people visiting their sites. I get that. I understand that you would prefer that people find this “amazing recipe” on your site as opposed to another page. I get that too. But who says you own this recipe? Most recipes that people have are things they’ve picked up from another person…a family member, a neighbor, someone who made something for a church dinner. Do you have to ask their permission before you post this recipe on a blog? No. Do you have to provide them with a kickback from the advertising revenue generated when someone sees this recipe on your blog? No.

        A recipe is different from a photograph because it is much more difficult to prove ownership. As I said, a photograph has inherent rights associated with it because it is clearly the artistic property of the person who took it. With a recipe though, how do I know if you are the first person in the world to come up with this, or if your friend down the street was? It’s an issue of whether or not you can demonstrate that a recipe was your own, unique, intellectual property (i.e. no one else in the world ever came up with that recipe before you did).

        Also, just a word of advice, from one (admittedly less successful) blogger to another, you may want to avoid caustic comments such as “I also recommend that if you feel that it is OK to steal content, then own it. Use your name instead of leaving anonymous comments on a website.”

        I appreciate the fact that you didn’t censor my previous comment (which a lot of people would have), but since this is your site, you run the risk of people developing a negative opinion of you based on the way you treat individuals with opposing viewpoints. I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, because I understand why this would be a sensitive topic to you, but others may not be so kind.

  8. Kona says

    I have to agree with “somebody” above. By law you can not copyright the basic ingredients and directions of a recipe. Yes, your picture is yours and copyrightable, as is your description of how amazingly rich and sinfully delicious something might be, but that’s it.

    US Copyright Law – http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl122.html

    Washington Post article – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/03/AR2006010300316.html

    Easy to understand explanation by Open Source Cookbook – http://opensourcecook.com/recipes-copyright-law

    That being said, I agree it is on bad form to find a recipe online copy it word for word and paste it on FB with no credit to where you found it. I regularly post recipes (and my own pictures on my blog) and always give credit to where my idea or the recipe itself came from. Yet, that is being morally right, not legally. Legally there is nothing preventing me from copying the ingredients and basic directions of a recipe.

  9. Doris says

    I think this is all bull. I love to cook and do not make any monies sharing these recipes. Everyone has a right to their own opinion, and rightfully so. My friends love to cook, and we make the recipes, not sell them. I have never gotten a penny from sharing these, and will continues to do so. Stealing is used here from someone who has an opinion, not a FACT!!!!!

    • Tracie says

      Doris – you apparently did not take the time to carefully read the article. At no time did I say that YOU made money. Not at all. The sites who steal the recipes do – and so when you share them, you are in essences helping them get the word out about the stolen content on their page.

      Some of these people then turn around and publish books — filled with pages of stolen recipes and content. So, again, I never once said that you made money by sharing it – these page owners do. Promoting theft, of any sort is the problem here….and that is what you do when you share these pages incorrectly.

      Not only that – the blogs and sites where these are taken from make money. So, when you prevent people from visiting these pages, you are in fact stealing money out of their pockets.

      Say what you will, but someone profits – but at no time in my post did I say readers (such as you) profit. Please re-read and think carefully before you respond with comments which were not even represented within the article.

      So, go ahead and help promote people who steal – apparently, it is OK as long as you get a new yummy recipe to feed your family.

  10. Doris says

    I won’t leave any more comments – cause if you copy and paste the recipe to pininterest or wahtever – then you are not stealing??????? – when that is out there for all to see. I am not a thief – I DO NOT PROMOTE – If I wanted to investigate this further, I would have to have more time – time on the interest cause of my opinion, rather then being a good “MOMMIE” and spending the time with my kids and family!!!!!
    People need to wake up = who is going to pay for a recipe??? If I put a hundred dollar bill in the street, and someone finds it – HOW MANY WOULD KEEP IT AND NOT TRY TO FIND OUT WHERE IT ORIGINATED. People are so funny – their priorites seem to be finding somehting to post to OBJECT??????? lol – that means laughing out loud – and don’t remember who I stole from!!!

  11. Craig says

    I think it’s slightly ironic that there’s a post on here about free recipes on a penny pinchers website 😉