If you have ever read news online, and chances are good that you have if you’re still breathing, you’ve no doubt seen a countless number of sources quoted. It could be a story about an accident that happened downtown, an article about how people with the messiest desks work the most efficiently or a tech story about a huge acquisition. Quotes are a fact of the news, but here’s a question for you: what if the quotes and sources are fake?
A man named Ryan Holiday wondered the same thing, but he took the idea into his own hands. Using online services that helps reporters get in contact with sources, Ryan put himself out there to be quoted for a variety of stories – and of course, he was never an authority on anything he was quoted for. Even big publications such as The New York Times have quoted him, proving just how easily this sort of thing could happen.
An interesting thing about Ryan’s game, if you could call it that, is that he wasn’t doing this anonymously. He retained his real name, and anyone who took the time to Google him could have easily seen that he was a manipulator. But time and time again, he’d be quoted, and the publication wouldn’t be the wiser. That book shown above? Yeah, that’s the result of his research, and I admit I’m tempted to check it out.
The moral of this story? If you’re a reporter, and even if not, don’t believe everything you’re told without doing a bit of fact checking. Even on Facebook, it’s common to see these “facts” posted that are absolutely untrue, yet many people “share” or believe them. Don’t be fooled!