Ever since the early 2000s, when I was using Linux IRC clients which would paste anything you had in your clipboard when pressing the middle mouse button, I have been scared out of my mind that I would one day have copied my sensitive.txt file content's and accidentally pressed the middle mouse button, causing many linebreaks which were interpreted as "Send", flooding some random IRC channel with my private information.

As far as I know, it never happened, but it came damn close many times. Middle-click-paste was an idiotic invention if you ask me.

The same goes for posting to Stack Exchange. I always type my stuff in a different window and only copy and paste the full text once I'm done. Of course, I always make sure I didn't paste the wrong text before hitting "Submit", but what if you accidentally didn't? Once you have posted it, it takes mere seconds at most for bots to grab that content and supposedly store it indefinitely.

In such a situation, or the one I described with the chatrooms, there is nothing you can do, is there? Just leave in shame and never come back, desperately trying to change your passwords to any accounts that were pasted or trying to brush it off as a "social experiment"?

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    I think that this is a pretty broad question. What you can do depends on the exact medium (is it possible to delete stuff?), on the context (what will be the reaction from other users), on the kind of content you've accidentally inserted (passwords vs. code snippets vs. links vs ...) etc. In other words: there is no single best course and trying to cover all possible options would be way too broad. Therefore I propose to close it as missing focus, i.e. too broad. Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 6:36
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    I know this doesn't directly answer your question, but as a personal rule, I try to avoid ever copying or cutting anything sensitive (to avoid the risk of accidentally pasting it later). And if I do ever copy something sensitive, I immediately paste it where it needs to go and then immediately copy a few meaningless words out of any open document, as a way of replacing the sensitive content at the top of my clipboard. Then, an accidental paste will at least not be problematic.
    – dwizum
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 19:39

1 Answer 1


Like many questions along these lines of "what should I do if", the answer is inevitably "it depends."

Firstly, it's up to you to determine the sensitivity of the information you accidentally shared. If it's something like your Neopets password, that you no longer care about, then maybe it's fine and you take your time changing your password. If it's something like your credit card info, you probably want to contact your bank immediately to get it cancelled.

Secondly, the software might have some sort of edit or delete functionality. Again, you will have to decided on how sensitive the data is and how long it was on the system to be seen publicly. If you accidentally post a secret RPG strategy but were able to delete it immediately, you might decide it's safe and you don't need to create a new plan. However, if it's your roll20 password, or you didn't notice and didn't delete your post for 5 minutes, you should consider it fully compromised and change anything sensitive relying on it.

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