Abe Lincoln Meme: 'The Problem with Quotes on the Internet'

Abraham Lincoln Warns Us about Internet Fakes

Abraham Lincoln
Wikimedia Commons

"The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity."
~ Abraham Lincoln (source: the Internet)

Abraham Lincoln Internet Quote

You will see many variations on the internet of the Honest Abe telling you not to trust quotes on the Internet. You are likely to have a friend or frenemy post one to you after you post something they don't believe to be true or accurate.

If you've posted something on social media and you get back a meme of Abe Lincoln telling you not to believe everything you read on the internet, they are telling you they doubt what you posted is true.

Why Didn't Abraham Lincoln Warn About Fake News on the Internet?

If you need it further explained, Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin in Illinois in 1809 and was assassinated in 1865. This was over a century before the birth of the internet. The log cabin and the White House both lacked electricity. It wouldn't be until the Benjamin Harrison administration in 1891 that the President could turn on a lightbulb, although he wouldn't do it for fear of a shock. Sadly, neither was there any WiFi or mobile telephones. Even landline telephones were not invented until 11 years after Lincoln's death.

Inaccurate quotes and fake news had to spread slower in Abraham Lincoln's time, in print via newspapers, pamphlets, and books, or by word of mouth. The telegraph helped it spread faster, with coast-to-coast service by the end of Lincoln's life.

Variations on the Abraham Lincoln Internet Quote

"The problem with internet quotes is that you can't always depend on their accuracy" ~Abraham Lincoln, 1864.

"Don't believe everything you read on the internet." ~Abraham Lincon

"You can't believe everything you read on the internet." ~Abe Lincoln, 1868
(Note that this would have been three years after his death)

"The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that you can never know if they are genuine." ~Abraham Lincoln

"Don't believe everything you read on the internet just because there's a picture with a quote next to it." ~Abraham Lincoln

"The greatest thing about Facebook is that you can quote something and totally make up the source." ~ George Washington

How Can You Prevent Spreading Fake Quotes and Fake News?

If you see a great quote, you might want to do a web search to see if it is properly attributed. If it's simply misattributed, you may find the original source listed on reputable websites. But if it's been spreading for a while, you may find it in many compilations of quotes on less choosy websites. Use a little rational thinking to see if the quote fits with other quotes from the same person. Is Gandhi or the Dalai Lama advocating violence? Probably fake. Is a historical figure talking about something invented after her time? Definitely fake. Is it a prediction that seems far too specific to events far in the future? Probably fake.