People can become so obsessed with spreading disinformation that they will share faked material that wasn’t even intended to be taken seriously. This is what happened last week to a number of pro-Kremlin propagandists when they became so fascinated with a photo claimed to be documenting the G20 meeting in Hamburg that they forgot to ask themselves if this was too good to be true.
And too good to be true it was. If you compare the original image above with the image below, you will perhaps appreciate the temptation it must have been for pro-Kremlin propagandists to share the photoshopped version with President Putin as the man in the middle. Among those who shared it was talk show host Vladimir Soloviev, whose show is among the most notorious for spreading disinformation on Russian national TV. On the one hand, it is, of course, human to err, but it’s not that there weren’t any warning signs: The Russian national St. George’s ribbon put on Chancellor Merkel indicates that the authors of the original photoshopped image probably had no intention of claiming that the image was authentic. Mr. Soloviev was sufficiently embarrassed to delete his tweet with the image, as reported by Meduza.
Normally we use the word misinformation when people unintentionally share misleading material and disinformation when they do it intentionally. But we feel that we now lack a word for the cases when your wish to support a certain political narrative makes you completely lose your sense of humor.