The Trump-Putin presser was unnerving. These altered presidential quotes show why.

On July 16, U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a joint press conference.

In their two-hour meeting in Finland, the two apparently discussed a wide range of topics, from the conflict in Syria to the annexation of Crimea.

But it was Trump's response to a question about 2016 election meddling that raised the most eyebrows stateside.


Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images.

When pressed about the Kremlin's cyber attacks and disinformation campaign during the presidential election, Trump avoided criticizing his Russian counterpart — and, in doing so, seemingly backed Putin's claims that Russia did not interfere.

"My people came to me, [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats came to me and some others saying they think it's Russia," Trump said. "... President Putin ... just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don’t see any reason why it would be [Russia] ... I have confidence in both parties.”

Both parties?

"I have great confidence in my intelligence people," Trump continued, "but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today."

Putin gave Trump a soccer ball from the recent World Cup played in Russia. Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images.

This ... is not good. Whichever way you spin it.

And TBS's "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" spun it in quite the interesting fashion.

Using altered past presidential quotes with the hashtag #BothSidesHistory, "Full Frontal" illustrated just how absurd Trump's remarks on Russian meddling truly are.

"A house divided is actually just fine," the first fake quote from Abraham Lincoln read. "Both sides are great! Excellent people on both sides."

"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for our dear friends in the Soviet Union," John F. Kennedy could've said (but didn't).

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that the King of England treats us real good and the whole tea mess is our fault," our Founding Fathers definitely did not say.

"This is a day that will live in normal-famy because I talked to Japan and they said they didn't do it IDK," Franklin D. Roosevelt said. (Not really, but you get how this works.)

"Mr. Gorbachev, this wall is so cute!" Ronald Reagan said. (Nope.)

"Full Frontal's" lighthearted spin on the Trump-Putin press conference may be a little too flippant for some to get on board with ("Funny but too soon for me, gut is still churning" one user commented in the replies). And that's understandable.

But the sobering point being made — that the moral equivalency of "both sides" is a dangerous one to promote — is resonating with many Americans.

Politicians from both sides of the aisle condemned Trump's answers at the Helsinki press conference.

"It's difficult to overstate the damage done by Donald Trump's shocking and disgraceful show of weakness on the world stage," Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth tweeted. "The strong global alliances and global belief in American leadership that he has taken just days to tear down over the last [week] will take generations to rebuild."

"Trump flattered Putin who attacked our democracy and insulted the brave men and women of our Intelligence Community," fellow Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris wrote. "It is disgraceful."

Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain also blasted Trump's refusal to condemn Putin with the world watching.

Whether it's funny fake quotes from past presidents or terrifyingly real ones from present-day senators, they both make one point crystal clear: Cozying up to — and, potentially, colluding with — authoritarians who murder journalists and rig elections in order to win is not the American way.

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With the COVID-19 Pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests nationwide, and the countdown to the 2020 Presidential election, there has been a flurry of online activity.

We're tweeting about these events, we're sharing news articles about them on Facebook, and we're uploading live videos as events happen during protests. These platforms are being used to communicate, to express outrage, to share what we're witnessing on the streets, to debate ideas, and to campaign for candidates.

This isn't new, of course. Social media has long been a way to get information out quickly.

"When the plane landed on the Hudson, that was one of the first events that was social media first," says Kate Starbird, associate professor in the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington. "The news went out via social media first because it was faster. People could actually see what was going on long before people could write a story about it or put it on the news."

Social media has also been lauded as a way for people to get information from a variety of perspectives — everybody can share what they see.

But, she adds, "the problem is that there is some inherent risk and vulnerabilities in getting things at that speed because speed can drive misinformation and mistakes." It's also incredibly difficult to know if all of these voices on social media are real. Some of those accounts might be deliberately trying to spread disinformation.

Disinformation spreads quickly during and after natural disasters, mass shootings, and other dangerous events.

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In fact, for more than a decade, Starbird has been researching how misinformation and disinformation spread online during these kinds of crises.

During a crisis, there's a lot of uncertainty and fear, so we start theorizing — or rumoring — on what to do and that rumoring can create misinformation. Then, political actors can either create additional misinformation or amplify existing rumors to spread false information for political reasons. "When there's fear and anxiety, we're acutely vulnerable to politicization, misinformation, and disinformation," she says.

For example, climate science denialists can use natural disasters — such as hurricanes or winter storms — to amplify false information that supports their cause.

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Lauren-Ashley Howard/Twitter, Wikimedia Commons

The lengths people will go to discredit a political figure—especially a Black female politician—is pretty astounding. Since Kamala Harris was announced as Joe Biden's running mate, we've seen "birther" claims that she wasn't really born in the U.S. (she was), alternating claims that she's too moderate or too radical (which can't both be true), and a claim apparently designed to be a "gotcha"—that her ancestor in Jamaica was a slave owner.

According to Politifact, the claim that Harris descends from a slave owners is likely true. In their rather lengthy fact check on her lineage, which has not revealed any definitive answers, they conclude, "It seems possible that Kamala Harris is as likely a descendant of a slave-owner as she is an enslaved person." But that doesn't mean what the folks who are using that potential descencency as a weapon seem to think it means.

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When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

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UPDATE/EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was successfully removed from Facebook thanks in part to this article from Annie Reneau and also thanks to readers like you who took action and demanded accountability from Facebook. We're sharing it again as an example of how we can all be part of positive and constructive change on social media. Don't let the trolls win!

Original story begins below:

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As we say in the viral stories world, there's viral and then there's viral. A post with 100K shares in a month would be considered super viral. A post with a millions shares—even over a long period of time—is nearly unheard of.

So the fact that a post about Irish slaves has been shared nearly a million times in just nine days is incredibly disheartening. Why? Because it's fake, fake, fake. And not in an "I don't like what this says so I'm going to call it fake" kind of way, but in a non-factual, already-debunked-by-real-historians kind of way.

As someone with a crapton of Irish ancestry, I find the perpetuation of the Irish slaves myth utterly embarrassing—especially since it's most often shared in an attempt to downplay the history of Black slavery in the U.S. If it were true, that kind of deflection would still be annoying. But pushing false history narratives to deny the reality of the impact of institutionalized, race-based chattel slavery is just gross.

And to be sure, this is false history. To begin with, the photo isn't even of Irish people at all. It's a photo of Belgian miners crammed into a mining elevator around the year 1900.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Sometimes a boycott succeeds when it fails.

Although the general aim of a boycott is to hurt profits, there are times when the symbolism of a boycott gives birth to a constant, overt and irreversible new optic for a company to nurse.

When the boycott of Facebook began in June and reached its peak in July, it gathered thousands of brands who vocalized their dissatisfaction with the platform.

The boycott, under the hashtag #StopHateForProfit, was launched by civil rights groups. By July brands were fully behind removing their ad spending - resulting in a small financial dent for the social media juggernaut, but a forceful bludgeoning in the press.


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