Thanks to the Internet, Mark Twain's famous line, "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes," has never been more accurate.
In the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden, at least one inaccurate quote credited to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made it around the cyber world via Facebook and Twitter before it was justly clarified.
The quote in question: "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that," reported Mashable.com.
The Atlantic challenged the validity of the quote as coming from King. "It's a bit too a propos. What 'thousands' would King have been talking about? In which enemy's death was he supposed to be rejoicing?" asked Megan McArdle, business and economics editor of The Atlantic.
It turns out that nobody "fabricated" anything, according to Salon.com.
Salon reported a 24-year-old teacher named Jessica Dovey wrote her own thoughts without using quote marks in front of the King quote and posted it on Facebook. Her post was cut and pasted and abbreviated in countless ways. Dovey's words and King's words were mixed together.
During a sermon in 1957 King said, "Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."
Dovey added her words, before the King quote, but then the two thoughts were linked together and spread across Facebook and the web.
Another wrongfully attributed quote that made the rounds in recent years involved an alleged quote from Karl Marx that purportedly related to the future housing bubble.
Turns out the quote cited was not in his 1867 work, "Das Kapital," as it was attributed, reported The Atlantic.
To help Internet readers better seek out the truth when such questionable posts arise, PCWorld.com recommends using Google's date-range filter.