What does Donald Trump’s online advantage look like in 2020? Maybe a bit like this data breakdown, based on 160 million online images posted on various platforms between July 2016 and July 2017.
The data doesn’t take into account the effect of a manipulated Facebook posts, either – although some of these memes would have landed there, too.
Surely, the dynamic has changed somewhat since 2016 towards Trump ‘s advantage. For now. Trump was in a dominant position on the world of memes. Elections, by definition, are driven by the perceptions of crowds. In a democracy, those perceptions should be formed on facts. Memes, however, allow you to bypass the thought process and go right for the feelings. So people could support Donald Trump ironically, without supporting him genuinely. Nevertheless, internet indexing and ranking tools doesn’t distinguish between irony and honesty. Index just measures content flows and volumes.
Trump is helped by the fact that online campaigns tend to focus on single tangible figure (Trump, Harambe or Pepe the Frog), rather than the abstract notions central to democracy: equality, justice, etc. Lone figures gain support more easily in era of networked tribalism on social media rather than during the old days of traditional media.
The above chart comes from the paper: “On the Origins of Memes by Means of Fringe Web Communities” by Savvas Zannettou, Gianluca Stringhini, et al.