Is Social Media Considering Banning Memes From the Right Because They Are Too Effective?

When you start seeing several different media organizations saying the same basic things you have to be sort of dense to not realize that some sort of coordination is afoot. Rush Limbaugh was one of the first to notice and document this behavior. These are some of the classics:

https://youtu.be/mcKvmSX40ms

Several things have happened in the past couple of weeks that, by themselves, are innocuous but collectively seem to be the leading edge of a push by the major media, and because they are involved so is the Democrat party, to have Facebook and Twitter clamp down even more on the ability of conservatives to participate in politics.

Last Monday, the wife of the Washington Post’s media critic, had an article appear in Mother Jones headlined “The Left Can’t Meme”: How Right-Wing Groups Are Training the Next Generation of Social Media Warriors. Before we go further, just stop and consider for a moment that the wife of the guy who is supposed to cover the media for the Washington Post is writing about right wing meanies in Mother Jones. If you think we’re going to get a fair shake from this guy, guess again.

In the article, Mencimer takes aim at Benny Johnson and TPUSA:

According to Johnson, the answer to that question is memes. These bits of humor or political propaganda—generally images overlaid with a caption designed to go viral—are best known for littering social media, but some experts think they might have helped elect Donald Trump. Or as notorious internet troll Chuck Johnson has said, “We memed the president into existence.”

Following that unexpected meme-driven success, well-funded conservative groups are making a more organized push to train young internet-savvy right-wingers in the art of meme-making, enlisting a growing army in what they see as the coming meme war of 2020. Turning Point USA, the conservative campus group that organized the conference, is merely one of these organizations seeking to sway hearts, minds, and elections via meme trainings. And it’s clear that when it comes to political memes, the left—which has never taken them very seriously—is trailing the right badly, and falling even further behind.

“Right-wing speaker training has been around for decades,” says Angelo Carusone, president of the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters, which did a study of Facebook memes last summer. “Memes are a new front in the asymmetry. What you’re looking at here with memes is storytelling around the bend, and what you’re seeing is the future.”

In particular, she seems obsessed with the Pimp Lindsey Graham meme:

And these memes are so lethal that the freakin Russians used them:

It’s not clear exactly whether memes do, in fact, change public opinion, but conservative groups working to train grassroots troops seem to think so. So do the Russians. In the 2018 report commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm that meddled in the 2016 presidential election, researchers discovered that the IRA was especially fond of memes put out by TPUSA. Using accounts that it created to look like ordinary Americans and spread misinformation and propaganda, the IRA gave TPUSA memes a boost across multiple social media platforms. But the researchers couldn’t determine exactly what the impact of all those memes was.

Last year, Stringhini and six colleagues published a study on the origins of memes, analyzing more than 2 billion social media posts on Twitter, 4chan, Reddit, and Gab, to figure out where the most popular memes get their start. Stringhini says the most trafficked memes start on right-wing internet forums, places like 4chan’s politically incorrect /pol/ channel and Reddit’s /r/the_Donald/ subreddit. From there, the far right has been extremely successful in getting its stuff to take off on mainstream platforms. Stringhini notes that after the 2016 presidential election, Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, tweeted her thanks to 4chan and Reddit users for making it all happen, putting a sharp point on how much people on the right believe that memes are influencing public opinion.

As a result, conservative groups seem to be incorporating memes into their training arsenal for grassroots activists in a way that has no parallel on the left. In fact, “the left can’t meme” is itself a subgenre of memes, reflecting an idea accepted on both ends of the political spectrum that progressive activists are really bad at this form of political warfare.

One the whole, just more unremarkable instance of bitching from the left over the right actually putting up a fight. Right? I know a lot of us would think so. But late last week, a meme emerged ridiculing Joe Biden, a meme that was retweeted by both President Trump and by Donald Trump, Jr.

This caused a flurry of coordinated coverage in the media:


Notice anything peculiar? Like an unusual word being repeated over and over? Sort of like “gravitas?”

Want to know something more peculiar? At the same time all the major media were characterizing the Biden video as “doctored,” the leftwing goons at Politifact decided to “fact check” a derivative of the Lindsey Graham meme.

I posted on this To Defend Biden Politifact Fact Checks An Obvious Internet Meme. I think that was mistaken. This wasn’t Politifact being the ignorant mouthbreathers that they are. Going back and re-reading the rationale, you find this:

A screenshot of that moment has become a meme (examples here and here). But commenters on the Facebook post seem to believe the doctored photo with Biden is authentic.

“What a creep,” one woman wrote. “Does he have to be pawing women all the time? Where is his wife?”

“Old Joe at it again,” someone else wrote.

But another woman was wise to the Daily Caller’s story.

“Photoshopped,” she said. “And theres (sic) video to prove it.”

We rate this Facebook post as Pants on Fire!

Politifact is approaching this from the position that the meme is deceiving people no matter its intent and no matter how many people instantly recognized it for what it was.

I think this is completely correct. The left approaches most things from the point of view of “if you can’t beat them, outlaw what they’re doing.” Given the relationship between Politifact and the social media giants, it is more than possible, actually it is nearly guaranteed, that you’ll see memes from the right treated the same way you see effective Twitter parody accounts on the right treated. They will be banned. But, as the “muh principles” folks cruising on the good ship Lollipop will tell you, those are private companies, what are you doing, demanding the Fairness Doctrine?

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