Have you ever shared an inspirational quote without checking the source? If so, you’re not alone – just make sure the quote wasn’t written by Adolf Hitler.
While many students spend April 20 smoking weed with their friends – the day is also known because it is Adolf Hitler’s birthday. Alt-right internet trolls from the messaging board 4 chan /pol/ celebrated his birthday by putting his quotes on inspirational images, signing them “A.H.”, and sharing them on feminist subreddits.
Like this one, posted on the subreddit r/getmotivated by user Theastronomer69:
Or the one that appeared on r/TheGirlSurvivalGuide with the subject “Inspirational words for all my sistas out there.”
The trolls directly targeted feminist subreddits and initiated a game amongst users. The post with the most upvotes would get “the eternal sympathy of the führer.”
To increase visibility, 4chan posters used their Reddit accounts to upvote one another’s posts and add comments.
“Really good advice. At least people should be in a good mood today,” wrote Reddit user UnexpectedDubstep, who commented on several of the posts 4chan users posted on subreddits.
One anonymous 4chan user explained that, “You underestimate the absolute stupidity of the average normie… it isn’t just about “trolling” them, it’s also about introducing their minds to the concept that; maybe this Hitler fellow wasn’t so terrible after all.”
While it is hard to believe that the average person – or “normie” – would google the quote and become a Hitler sympathizer, it is not unbelievable that a person might unwittingly re-share or upvote an inspirational quote without checking the source.
This alt-right, neo-Nazi mindset that is percolating anonymous messaging boards like 4chan can seem harmless – but has recently led to real-life physical altercations.
In February, white supremacists organized the disruption of Shia LeBeouf’s anti-Trump performance art project on 4chan.
The neo-Nazi’s came out from behind their computer screens and the museum had to shut down the project due to a “serious and ongoing public safety hazard.”
Though most of the birthday posts were widely ignored on the subreddits, 4chan users discussed the “long game” of “planting subtle red pills that are innocent looking enough that they can freely float around in society,” much like how Pepe the Frog has become a subtle symbol of the alt-right movement.
Reddit did not immediately respond to a request for comment about their removal policies but has been known to defend controversial posts and free speech.
Since 4chan and Reddit aren’t stopping the posts from spreading – it’s on individual social media users to check the source before sharing inspirational quotes. Unless you don’t mind sharing a seemingly harmless quote that was actually said by Hitler.