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