News flash: Not everything on the Internet is true. Yet people continue to share and reblog information without checking its accuracy.
One Pinterest user became fed up with false images portraying celebrities with misattributed quotes. Emily, a 19-year-old junior studying English, who requested to keep her last name private, told http://www.kotaku.com, the posts were annoying, and she decided to take action.
Emily created a satirical board of Taylor Swift pictures overlaid with quotes by Hitler, Stalin and Osama bin Laden. But the quotes were attributed to Taylor Swift, and the images were shared numerous times before anyone noticed the real men behind the curlicue script.
One picture of Swift with the Hitler quote, “Do not compare yourself to others. If you do so, you are insulting yourself,” received almost 300 repins.
Bruce Floyd, UF social media specialist, said he tells people they are what they tweet.
“Anything that you share from your account, retweet or repin is going to be associated with you in some way,” Floyd said.
So, as a general rule, he advises students to look at things from a journalistic viewpoint and verify their sources. He said though any reference to Hitler can be provocative and controversial, it brings to light that it’s very easy to misattribute a quote and for it to spread like wildfire.
However, the reaction to Emily’s board has been mixed.
She said some people misinterpreted her project as an attack against Taylor Swift or a promotion of anti-Semitism.
Swift has undergone several transformations since she has become a household name, from straight hair to curly hair to straight hair with bangs. But the depiction of her with Hitler quotes was not one she wanted to debut.
Swift’s lawyers requested that Pinterest remove the posts, Emily said. However, the board is still up — now with a disclaimer — and Emily said Pinterest has defended her.
Emily said she has dealt with hundreds of “morons” who think she is anti-Semitic.
Rachael Cain, a 20-year-old UF music junior and the social justice intern for UF Hillel, said it was insensitive to use quotes by Hitler. Although she said she can’t speak for the Hillel community, Cain said she thinks Emily posted the quotes by Hitler because he is someone universally hated.
Materials science and engineering junior Ben Swerdlow, 20, the Shabbat and holidays intern for Hillel, said he agrees with Emily, although he says his views do not represent Hillel.
“It seems that she just is making a statement about the Internet and not believing everything you see on it,” he said.
Swerdlow said he has no problem with the use of Hitler quotes for humorous effect.
“After all,” he said,” Mel Brooks once said, ‘By using the medium of comedy, we can try to rob Hitler of his posthumous power and myths.’”
Swerdlow assured me that although he looked up the Mel Brooks quote online, it was taken directly from an interview with the German news magazine Spiegel, so hopefully it’s not misattributed like other quotes on the Internet.
I checked: The Mel Brooks quote is accurate.
A version of this story ran on page 8 on 9/19/2013 under the headline "Taylor Swift has a Pinterest problem"