Facebook Recipes

Have you seen some delicious or not-so-delicious recipe on Facebook recently? Of course you have.

It is like the new version of “has anyone in your feed shared George Takei, a lolcat, or some other meme?.”

Recipe. Picture. Not anything super “secret” really–usually the sort of things you might run into at a potluck or made by the great home cook down the block. Everyone and their mother (especially mothers that are Facebook people and not much on wandering the whole internet) has shared these or so it seems.

I have seen them. I even have thought “hey, that looks good.” I also have thought “Huh. That looks familiar.” Then today, a friend of mine shared something that looked way too familiar. Not just the picture, there was a turn of phrase that struck me. I did a quick search and yes, that exact phrase came up. (and really, that is what you own as a food blogger–unique instructions and your pictures.  Read on and click the link for a better explanation. )

I had actually been wondering a bit about the recipe sharing once it started hitting my news feed in force. “Why?” “Isn’t that what Pinterest is for?” “Is this some new thing?”, “What am I missing as a food blogger here?” I didn’t pursue it though.

There are some great minds in the food space. I knew someone would write about it and scream it around the Internet if I should worry. Of course they would. Maybe they did? I missed it though. (I did, obviously, apparently the Boston Marathon and North Korea caught my attention) If you missed the screaming too…I want to point you here:

What Every Facebook User Needs to Know” IamBaker is on top of the issue a good week before me. (and she’s a Food Blogger of the capital letter sort. Really, read her blog, gaze at her pictures, don’t steal her work though.) Go read it. It boils down to copyright. It’s important.

Read this one too on BlogHer:
Food Bloggers Fight Storm of Facebook Pages That Are Stealing Their Content. (by the talented Rawmazing)
I don’t really like to slug copyright around a lot. I know better than most that the same recipe is in hundreds of cookbooks, that my mother’s recipe and secret ingredients very well could be yours as well. I respect it but I also know that some food bloggers can get tense over the same 1-2-3-4 cake ingredients in the same order. I even am cool with “cream butter and sugar” not being unique. I get it. (really I do.)

I know that NONE of the people who have shared these recipes on Facebook after it has been shared hundreds of times even thought about this or understood something important about the differences between the ways these things are shared. I don’t want to give the page owners that much credit, but I like to think the best of at least some of them too. (the rest, oh dear, don’t let me scare you with why they want you to like their page and how they make money from that)

i am baker starts with “Have you ever shared content?”

What i am baker is saying  is …if you share a picture, a recipe, a funny ecard, caption, kid pic of some kid–that is CONTENT.  That belongs to someone else. There is an investment in that content and someone owns it. Really.

Read IamBaker’s post and if you are asking “but what about?” then yes, ask me if you need a Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest/someecard/oatmeal/xkcd/message board/food blog specific post from someone who knows. I have a lot of talented friends, read some good blog posts, and attended conference sessions addressing that specific issue. If you know of a great post about these issues, share those too.

I respect recipe developers. I respect people who spend a lot of time and energy on developing, photographing, cooking, mixing, baking, and listening to feedback on those recipes. Food Bloggers, writers, developers: they spend real time and energy on everything from idea to plate to picture to hitting publish. It is why I have yet to become what in my mind is a “real” food blogger.

I write about food, but I’ve not buckled down to do it the way so many people do well. It isn’t where I am right now. Oh…don’t let me wander off to maybe the third topic I was going to blog before I became enraged about Facebook. (again, focus, not there. Maybe I will discuss that later this week. Maybe I will skip it in favor of the Jell-o I made yesterday. )  People WORK hard on recipes, cooking, writing. That is the important thing here. Remember the last time you made a new dish for dinner that no one liked? Imagine working to make that recipe come out, PHOTOGRAPHING it (you see that is harder than it looks even if you are a pretty cook and a skill set all its own. Try it.), trying it out on friends/family/yourself, trying again, writing about it, publishing it in some form. Then doing it all “for fun” or for a living. Food bloggers do this all of the time. It’s beautiful.

Learn why those Facebook recipes aren’t just illegal, but just wrong. Really wrong.

Really, I just try to ask myself “What would Elise Bauer do?” If you are a food blogger or interested in these issues beyond “Oh! I didn’t know that. I won’t share those anymore” you should check out some of her writing about copyright, recipes, and food blogging.


  1. Excellent advice. Think before you click!

  2. I try to be very careful about which things I choose to share. I share articles but always click through to see the source. Same with recipe posts. I am either sharing my own or sharing a direct link to a food blogger’s blog that I like. I’ve heard about all these recipes showing up on facebook and being stolen but haven’t seen any of this in my own feed as of yet. However – on Friday someone reported to me that someone else had stolen an image of mine and put her own pinterest name on it. That’s the first time that’s happened to me but this person was also posting people’s recipes to her site and on her site she says “I am in no way claiming that all the recipes on my facebook page are my own” but she gives ZERO attribution to the real creators. SO OUTRAGEOUS. I reported her to Pinterest but since I can’t find the origin of her other stuff I can’t prove her facebook stuff is copied. Anyway – good topic to be aware of and to discuss!

  3. Thank you so much for this post! I feel this dozens of times each day as I scan through my feed. Kudos to you for putting it into words to share.

  4. What would Elise Bauer do? hahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahaha!

  5. Denise: Hey, Elise knows her copyright and fair use. She’s a smart woman!

  6. Lisa: No problem. I knew someone else had to have noticed that this was…odd (and indeed others had blogged it). I think though that the timing of it really got hidden by other stories.

  7. Angelina: I try as well. I feel like letting people know is rather like letting people know about urban legends. It is easy to spend time on Facebook and start feeling like “everyone does it” and not really thinking about the implications of how that content appears. I know I am not flawless in this regard.

    Yikes on your recipe and picture. Some of the ones I looked up from Facebook last night would have recipe wording from one blogger and the photo from someone else, no links except to whatever group shared it. All of it in one nice, easy package. You need never leave Facebook. These are very much like some new version of trading recipes at a potluck… except not.

    One of them I went to the group that “originated” the post on Facebook. Hidden in the rules of the group was pretty much a “yes, we copy/paste these because they are just like our family recipes but already typed in and have photos. If you think it is YOURS contact us.”

  8. Momo: I really don’t think anyone sharing in my news feed understood this harmed anyone.

    I think they saw it, recipe, picture, oh this is something that would really get eaten at our house or something we would LIKE. Most of them are the antithesis of what most people think of when they think of food writing. (if they consider food writing at all) Most of them are high calorie, high fat, home cooking with convenience foods.

  9. stealing is wrong. but i am so guilty of crossposting. especially funnies. Heck, I crosspost things you post on Facebook all the time.

  10. Karen-Sharing is good, really good. Just make sure that it links to or includes attribution to the original. 🙂

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