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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.

Go deeper

47 mins ago - Health

CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use"

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

The CDC is urging “universal face mask use” for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, citing recent case spikes as the U.S. has entered a phase of “high-level transmission” before winter officially begins.

Why it matters: Daily COVID-related deaths across the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday. Face coverings have been shown to increase protection of the wearer and those around them, despite some Americans' reluctance to use them.

2 hours ago - World

Saudi Arabia and Qatar near deal to end standoff, sources say

Qatar's prime minister (R) attends the 2019 Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are close to a deal to end the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf following U.S.-mediated reconciliation talks this week, sources familiar with the talks tell me.

Why it matters: Restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would bring a sense of stability back to the Gulf after a 3.5 year standoff. It could also notch a last-minute achievement for the Trump administration before Jan. 20.

House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.