ISD’s Explainer on memes and the extreme right-wing featured in an article by the Washington Post about the evolution of Twitter since Elon Musk’s takeover and the rise of the alt-right (alternative right) online fringe movement.
Internet memes were central in the rise of the alt-right movement in the early 2010s. Using humour and irony they were able to condense complex thoughts into a palatable, visually appealing format that could be shared to broader audiences. As a result, the alt-right was able to spread its messaging and gain traction. In response, social media platforms adopted different policies to contain that spread. However, under new ownership and policies, Twitter has recently become a place for a similar form of political confrontation, where right-wing voices engage in ‘meme wars’.
The article’s author argues that Elon Musk has contributed to this new phenomenon, by sharing right-wing articles, making offensive jokes, and using loaded terms to mock the left and carry his “war against the wokeists.”
The full Explainer is available on our website.