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Who makes up all these fake quotes?

I started thinking about this after seeing the following image on my Facebook feed:

Photo of Putin with text: Obama could learn from this speech. In Russia, lives Russians. Any minority from anywhere, if it wants to live in Russia, to work and eat in Russia, should speak Russian, and should respect the Russian law. If they want Sharia Law, then we advise them to to go those places where that's the state law. Russia does not need minorities, minorities needs Russia, and we will not grant them special privilege, or try to change our laws to fit their desires, no matter how loud they yell "Discrimination". Vladimir Putin, Russian President

The Putin quote, I found after some checking, is fake. The text has been around in chain emails for a while before it arrived on Facebook as an image. I suppose that anyone familiar with Russian history would know that Russia contains majority Islamic member states, like Chechnya. Islam actually has legal status as part of Russia’s “historical heritage.” The grammar and punctuation errors are also curious. So the quote is nonsense.

My Facebook friends are pretty much evenly divided across the political spectrum, containing family, school friends, online friends, civic friends, former work friends and church friends. I tend to check quotes I see online, no matter who repeats them, and pretty much all of the fake quotes are on the conservative side, and typically are critical of President Obama in one way or another.

I don’t doubt that my Facebook friends believe these to be accurate; not everybody is a high-ranking member of the Quote Police like me. Up until now I have been focused on folks passing on things without checking, but I have begun to wonder where they originate. The Putin quote doesn’t seem to be a misattribution (I haven’t found it associated with anyone else) but rather a complete fabrication. Someone lied intentionally. They decided that they would create some anti-Muslim propaganda by faking a quotation from Vladimir Putin.

If quote fabrication for propaganda purposes were widespread, then one would expect to see it from both liberals and conservatives, but that isn’t the case in my Facebook sampling. Could there be just a few groups making this stuff up? I am wondering if that question can be answered.

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22 Responses to Who makes up all these fake quotes?

  1. avatar
    Smirk 4 Food December 13, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

    If other liberals are like me, when they come across a quote which confirms our expectations about a conservative, they look for the original source of the quote.

  2. avatar
    Keith December 13, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

    That is why when I quote somebody I absolutely attempt to include the authority.

    Like that (actual) Lincoln quote I posted the other day. I included the date and the recipient of the letter. though I did not include was the immediate context for the quote.

    I believe it is an established maxim in morals that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood, and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him.

    Letter to the editor, a Mr. Ford, of the Lacon Illinois Gazette in Marshall County in 1846 referring to rumors of his ‘scoffing at Christianity’.

    I leave it to the reader to decode Mr. Lincoln’s intent: denying or agreeing that he was ‘scoffing’ at Christianity.

  3. avatar
    RanTalbott December 13, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

    I think there’s a very good chance it’s mostly pranksters mocking the RWNJs the way the creators of the Bomford BC and the Columbia records release scams did.

    There certainly are some real propagandists out there pushing memes like “socialist”, “Alinskyite”, and “Cloward-Piven”, or using distorted/out of context quotes, to rile up the base. And it’s likely that there’s some small number using complete fabrication for that purpose.

    But it’s also likely that there are more bored college students doing it than serious political operatives.

  4. avatar
    Craig HS December 14, 2015 at 2:47 am #

    I see a lot of stuff from Britain First in my facebook feeds. They’re a white nationalist group from Britain (natch!) that have a bigger facebook presence than most mainstream political parties, and they ALWAYS misrepresent what they show in their memes and photos. It got to the point where I was constantly searching for the original uses of photos in order to disprove whatever crap my family or friends were trying to share.

    So yes, there are far-right groups deliberately making up a LOT of crap, in order to influence public debate to their benefit. And sadly, Australians are listing to this rubbish to a large extent. It’s like we’ve imported the Tea Party wholesale, and all sanity has been thrown out the window.

  5. avatar
    The Magic M December 14, 2015 at 5:17 am #

    Another related RW favourite is taking quotes out of context to imply an ulterior motive not supported by context – like the Margaret Sanger quote “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population“, which, in context, meant “We don’t want people to spread false rumours”, but out of context reads like an admission to racism and genocide.

    I usually tell these people “If Sanger was really that bad, you wouldn’t have to fake photos* or take quotes out of context“.

    _____
    * Like the one where she appears to hold a speech in front of a KKK group doing the Nazi salute.

  6. avatar
    J.D. Reed December 14, 2015 at 11:29 am #

    I often agree with Ran Talbott but on this I can’t. Undoubtedly there are collegiate (and other) pranksters making mischief like he said, but from my viewpoint the vast, overwhelming majority are people who want to mislead low information individuals to gain political advantage.

  7. avatar
    Dave B. December 14, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    Speaking of fake photos, somebody I went to school with– and I went to school with quite a few, uh, unenlightened folks– posted a picture yesterday with the caption “Remember this picture when you vote.” Photoshop contest entry of Hillary shaking Bin Laden’s hand.

    The Magic M: I usually tell these people “If Sanger was really that bad, you wouldn’t have to fake photos* or take quotes out of context“.

  8. avatar
    J.D. Reed December 14, 2015 at 11:49 am #

    To follow up my previous post, I believe that the number of people creating these Internet myths is large. Some, such as Wall Builders’ David Barton, can be matched to their handiwork. Others much prefer to rumor-monger anonymously.

  9. avatar
    Dave B. December 14, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

    Pretty good blast of Trump and birtherism:
    http://www.blackstarnews.com/us-politics/elections/trumpism-the-hate-that-hate-begat-or-chickens-coming-home-to

  10. avatar
    J.D. Reed December 14, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

    Begging everyone’s indulgence, but thoughts keep popping into my head on this matter. I think an appreciable number of people who deliberately make up false political rumors justify it to themselves by believing that the targets of their lies will be so horrible, if they attain or remain in power, that their dishonesty is an appropriate weapon with the stakes so high. Akin to justifiable homicide.

  11. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy December 14, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

    Rhetorically speaking:

    If their targets are so bad, what is the necessity of making stuff up? Why not use real stuff? Perhaps the “real stuff” involves arguments that would not sit well with the general public, i.e., racist arguments.

    J.D. Reed:
    Begging everyone’s indulgence, but thoughts keep popping into my head on this matter. I think an appreciable number of people who deliberately make up false political rumors justify it to themselves by believing that the targets of their lies will be so horrible, if they attain or remain in power, that their dishonesty is an appropriate weapon with the stakes so high. Akin to justifiable homicide.

  12. avatar
    Whatever4 December 15, 2015 at 3:10 am #

    Then there’s the “satire” or hoax news sites like Empire News, The Daily Currant, National Report, NewsWatch33, World News Daily Report, and who knows how many others. These seem to originate quite a bit of what Snopes has to debunk.

    No wonder “truthiness” seems to have taken over.

  13. avatar
    Sluffy1 December 15, 2015 at 8:09 am #

    “To forgive terrorists is up to God, to send them to him is up to me.” is another nonquote of Putins that the whackjobs still believe he said and wish for someone just like him to be our leader…. even though he’s a commie and they hate commies.
    I get all manner of ignorant emails from them containing easily debunked “facts”… . I never respond, it’s pointless.
    It’s Genetic.
    There are fundamental differences in how we process information and perceive reality.
    “Those People” are wired different, they heavily rely on edited YouTube clips, snappy slogans. old debunked fake emails, photoshopped images, out of context quotes and famous historic quotes ( from Washington to Hitler) to advance their fears and hate… and what’s with their need to self name themselves as Patriots or bestow True Patriot upon one of their cohorts….
    To Wit: Rambo’s latest at his Home forum.
    “Who is ultimately to blame for the Islamic attacks in France”
    http://www.igl.net/wwwbash/messages/235.shtml

  14. avatar
    Sluffy1 December 16, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

    Doc, you’re being too fair minded to expect to see it from both liberals and conservatives.
    You didn’t see it with your FaceBook samplings and you won’t see it with any other samplings you choose that involves YouTube videos, chain emails, snappy slogan’s, out of context quotes and famous historic quotes ( from Washington to Hitler) to advance their fears and hate… and what’s with their need to self name themselves as Patriots or bestow True Patriot upon one of their cohorts…. .

    A few coordinated groups or many loners that produce the junk matters little. No matter the origin once one is sent it gets forwarded to everyone on their contacts list. They thrive on it. I get all manner of ignorant emails from them containing easily debunked “facts”… . I never respond anymore, it’s pointless.

    Another one they love is Putin’s , “To forgive terrorists is up to God, to send them to him is up to me.” Even though he never said it, the whackjobs still believe he did and wish for someone just like him to be our leader…. even though he’s a commie and they hate commies.

    It must be genetic, those people and we the people are wired differently.

    Take my Uncle Ike….. please… To wit: Rambo’s latest at his Home forum.
    “Who is ultimately to blame for the Islamic attacks in France”
    http://www.igl.net/wwwbash/messages/235.shtml

  15. avatar
    J.D. Reed December 17, 2015 at 8:29 am #

    Sometimes it is a lot easier to go with a false negative story than to go to the trouble of vetting a true negative story. Low hanging fruit. And sometimes the false tale is just irresistable because it will play so well with the masses, i.e. Al Gore and the invention of the Internet.

  16. avatar
    Woodrowfan December 17, 2015 at 10:32 am #

    While I see them on both sides, I see a hell of a lot more coming from the right. It’s sad how many people fall for them. A few of my in-laws are taken in every time. They’re Faux News viewers and conservative Christians and, while they’re very sweet people, they are the must gullible people I’ve ever met.

  17. avatar
    Woodrowfan December 17, 2015 at 10:34 am #

    J.D. Reed:
    I often agree with Ran Talbott but on this I can’t. Undoubtedly there are collegiate (and other) pranksters making mischief like he said, but from my viewpoint the vast, overwhelming majority are people who want to mislead low information individuals to gain political advantage.

    I agree. The rightwing is a bit more understandable if you think of it as a cult. And cults are dependent upon creating propaganda to keep their followers in a closed information loop so that they remain in the group’s control.

  18. avatar
    J.D. Reed December 17, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    Woodrowfan, I think your experince with inlaws must be universal. I hear such things from my own inlaws (and my own blood kin, I confess) plus inlaws of siblings and children. Some are impervious to corrective info, and because my wife abhors arguments over politics at holiday get togethers, I refrain from correcting others to please her!

  19. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy December 17, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

    Redeemed from the spam filter:

    Sluffy1:
    “To forgive terrorists is up to God, to send them to him is up to me.” is another nonquote of Putins that the whackjobs still believe he said and wish for someone just like him to be our leader…. even though he’s a commie and they hate commies.
    I get all manner of ignorant emails from them containing easily debunked “facts”… . I never respond, it’s pointless.
    It’s Genetic.
    There are fundamental differences in how we process information and perceive reality.
    “Those People” are wired different, they heavily rely on edited YouTube clips, snappy slogans. old debunked fake emails, photoshopped images, out of context quotes and famous historic quotes ( from Washington to Hitler) to advance their fears and hate… and what’s with their need to self name themselves as Patriots or bestow True Patriot upon one of their cohorts….
    To Wit: Rambo’s latest at his Home forum.“Who is ultimately to blame for the Islamic attacks in France”
    http://www.igl.net/wwwbash/messages/235.shtml

  20. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy December 17, 2015 at 6:34 pm #

    Redeemed from the spam filter.

    Sluffy1:
    “To forgive terrorists is up to God, to send them to him is up to me.” is another nonquote of Putins that the whackjobs still believe he said and wish for someone just like him to be our leader…. even though he’s a commie and they hate commies.
    I get all manner of ignorant emails from them containing easily debunked “facts”… . I never respond, it’s pointless.
    It’s Genetic.
    There are fundamental differences in how we process information and perceive reality.
    “Those People” are wired different, they heavily rely on edited YouTube clips, snappy slogans. old debunked fake emails, photoshopped images, out of context quotes and famous historic quotes ( from Washington to Hitler) to advance their fears and hate… and what’s with their need to self name themselves as Patriots or bestow True Patriot upon one of their cohorts….
    To Wit: Rambo’s latest at his Home forum.“Who is ultimately to blame for the Islamic attacks in France”
    http://www.igl.net/wwwbash/messages/235.shtml

  21. avatar
    Sluffy1 December 20, 2015 at 7:40 am #

    I kept trying when they didn’t post… I won’t do that anymore… one and done from now on.