Recent releases from Wikileaks are, without question, exposing ethical failures and outright corruption in our government officials. The emails contain enormous evidence that this is occurring and that our government officials are as corrupt as the worst in the world.
That said, numerous people are posting excerpts on social media that are taken 100% out of context, to say something that is not true.
For example, I have seen this quote widely distributed on social media today, being presented as proof that Hillary Clinton was selling government protection to those who donated to her foundation. But that is not what the email is about:
“This is pretty simple stuff. So Algeria is on the terror list, they want off the terror list, the State Department’s making a decision to do it, they write a check for what? How much? How many million dollars do they write a check for? I don’t know, but Algeria writes a check. You’re from Boston, you know how politics works. They write a really big check to the Clinton Foundation,”
Looks damning, doesn’t it? Until you see that it was speculation from a flaky TV reporter.
The original full text is clear: this is a direct quote from MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough who was creating hypothetical scenarios.
Another example was a quote that Hillary Clinton apparently “hates everyday Americans”. Those words appear in the emails. However, this was in reference to her disliking the typical politician’s use of the phrase “everyday Americans”; she disliked the phrase.
With the normal mass media ignoring the 9,000 (so far) emails released by Wikileaks, and ignoring the documents released by DC Leaks and Guccifer 2, it is easy for poorly done crowd sourcing to take control of the story line and spread untrue statements on social media.
Again, the various released documents and emails contain a documented pattern of sleaze and corruption. There is more than enough to share that is legitimate corruption. However, spreading false statements dilutes the message and ultimately harms the messenger.
Disclaimer: I am absolutely not defending Clinton. The emails indicate a clear and unmistakable pattern of deceit and corruption. The purpose of this blog is to look at how social media is used to spread propaganda. In this situation, social media is spreading untrue statements by quickly taking quotes out of context. The use of out context quotes is a typical pattern common in propaganda messaging, whether by experts or social media amateurs. It is just another form of cherry picking to make a point.