A huge new research study has proved what everybody suspected all along – the left can’t meme.
The study, undertaken by researchers at University College London, found that the most effective memes largely originated in two places – the subreddit r/the_donald – a forum devoted to boosting President Donald Trump, and 4chan’s politically incorrect /pol forum.
A VICE write-up of the study acknowledges that the most “effectively spread” memes originated on r/the_donald and /pol.
The researchers studied more than 100 million images from online communities and found that, “/pol/ had the highest volume of memes, while the_donald was the best at getting memes spread outside of its own community.”
The researchers concluded that the algorithm they developed to identify the most effectively spread memes, “could be useful for social media platforms trying to automatically detect hateful content,” or in other words could be used to censor viral memes that are successful in spreading right-wing narratives.
While to the naive they’re just a fun way of sharing jokes and other content, the power of memes has grown rapidly in recent years to the point where they’re now seen as a hugely influential tool to amplify political narratives.
“Political memes are the raw material of political talk,” writes TheWeek’s Chuck Tyron. “They provide fodder for ongoing political conversations, allowing for informal and spontaneous efforts to define the ethical and moral limits of campaign speech.”
In a recent article for Salon, Deidre Olsen also whined about how the political meme “has become the centerpiece of disinformation campaigns” and that “the ability of memes to communicate ideology is boundless.”
If the left was good at creating and disseminating memes, one wonders if left-wing legacy media outlets would be so down on them. Obviously not.
So long as the right has the upper hand on the battlefield of meme warfare, their impact on political discourse will always be demonized and presented as a foreboding sign of a vast right-wing/racist/Russian/fill in the blank conspiracy.
Just as they can’t outline a cohesive political argument without resorting to calling their opponents racists or bigots, the left can’t meme.
In the very same way, instead of getting better at meme warfare, the left will simply attempt to censor and restrict the spread of memes through contrived moral panics, hysteria and censorship.
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