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Used to represent fingerquotes in text, they're placed at the end of a sentence to add emphasis. For example: These girls in the audience are screaming a lot.""
This has its origins in popslash, stemming from a Chris Kirkpatrick quote. He said that something was something...a lot, and then added "a lot" in air quotes for emphasis. Fans took this up, using a lot "a lot," which was then eventually shortened to just the empty quotation marks. This abbreviation can probably be attributed to wearemany's use in a live recap of an 'N Sync concert where she decided to trim the extra "a lot" and just use the quotation marks to save time.
The textual tic can still be seen on fannish and non-fannish blogs and journals.