Jul 11, 2017

How the right hijacks social media

Screenshot of The_Donald via Reddit

Liberals build social platforms with idealistic notions of change and inclusivity. Conservatives then master them to more effectively achieve their political ambitions.This under-appreciated dynamic is THE story of social media politics today. We saw this as Donald Trump and his allies harnessed – and at times manipulated - Twitter and Facebook, both built by liberal idealists, to win the presidency.We see a similar dynamic unfolding on Reddit, a company built by liberals that pro-Trump trolls are mastering to spread misinformation, often under the guise of First Amendment freedom.The power of "The_Donald": Trump himself tweeted a meme that bubbled up on a sub-reddit channel fittingly called "The_Donald." The channel has become the staging ground for the conservative movement on Reddit since the site banned two alt-right accounts earlier this year for violating their policies.Culture of trolling: Conservatives on Reddit are increasingly embracing "internet raiding," and trolling, where users ban together to game polls, algorithms or news feeds. Pepe the frog (more below) has become the symbol of the trolling movement.Money quote from BuzzFeed's Charlie Warzel in his newsletter: "A way I've been thinking of it is that Trump is like an assignment editor for the trolls."Pepe rising: The frog emoji symbolizes Pepe the Frog, a popular internet cartoon (see image above) that became a symbol of the alt-right conservative movement in early 2016.The alt-right social movement trolls highly-publicized national events and controversies using the frog emoji as a symbol of solidarity. "We've seen the Pepe frog emoji show up in basically every single national event since Trump was Inaugurated," Akash Nigam CEO of social analytics firm Blend, tells Axios. The frog was the most-used emoji during Trump's inauguration and the Super Bowl.

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