Trump never told People magazine that Republicans are dumb, Sarah Palin never said “I can see Russia from my house,” and when Obama said “gotta have ribs and pussy too” in 1995 he was reading a line spoken by a character in his book. Sharing miscaptioned photos that criticize public figures or organizations for things they never actually said or did generates the kind of emotional response that can lead to a mob mentality.
Tossing the label “fake news” at a legitimate news trend (one that falls under a general hashtag such as #blacklivesmatter or #pizzagate) is an attempt to discredit the mainstream news. Sharing fake memes in which public figures purportedly say ridiculous things makes the targets look bad, but the truth suffers more.
I’m still horrified for the teacher who was accused of maliciously denying an autistic child the chance to say his line in the school play (when another side of the story reports that the child never attended any rehearsals, showed up the day of the performance, was given other lines that he did deliver during the play, and that the “gobble gobble” line he wanted to say was not a scripted part of the performance). Mrs. Linsey is as much a victim of mob justice as the owner of Comet Ping Pong (the restaurant targeted by the bizarre conspiracy theory that it fronts a child abuse ring helmed by Hillary Clinton).