Back in the last presidential expedition season, reporters on the tech and politics vanquishes began noticing a rise in far-right memes that supported Trump. Memes being memes, these seemed initially like funny, off-color jokes. They pondered: What the hell is going on? Was this shitposting sarcastic or serious? Or both? Either road, it seemed newsworthy. The memes were clambering the trending directories on every social network and platform on the front sheet of Reddit. So journalists began registering what became a avalanche of tales about alt-right political memes and loopy plot possibilities. Like Taylor Swift as a grey nationalist icon and Pepe the Frog in a Nazi uniform.
“Surely if we expose this, ” one tech writer told herself, “it’ll placed parties off it.”
It didn’t. When, a year later, Trump had triumphed and Nazis were openly parade, those reporters began to realize that their coverage had had accurately the opposite gist. It had helped returning white preeminence into the mainstream by committing it crucial show. They had wildly amplified the importance and reach of exactly what we, in all probability, a not immense number of miscreants.“Every from time to time I’ll look back and see something that I wrote one and a half years ago and the quarry of my stomach falls, ” one reporter says.
Hate groups had gamed the media. They did it forcefully and successfully. Now it is possible to is now time to mentioned the prudence of WarGames–where the only way to win is not to play.
That’s the conclusion of some fascinating research by Whitney Phillips, aide professor of communications at Syracuse University and an expert on online trolling. She interviewed dozens of columnists who handled the meme wars–including the ones referred to above and WIRED’s Emma Grey Ellis–and mapped out how and why the nativist claim get so good at hacking the media’s attention.