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    At what point did innocent cultural artefacts like memes become a real tool for political campaigning? No one knows for sure. But what is certain is that they have recently been in the centre of several political scandals and controversies.

    What is a meme? An element of mainstream culture that can take the form of an image, video or text, often with humorous or mocking content. However, here are some examples of when memes turned into much more than simple entertainment.

    • The recent news that the former New York City Mayor and current contender for the Democratic party presidential nomination, Michael Bloomberg, has invested big money into the Meme 2020 project, sending satirical messages to various Instagram account holders to highlight his campaign, has left netizens in stitches. His efforts were, however, countered very quickly with some critical memes. Bloomberg likely is not that familiar with Newton’s Third Law of Motion.
    • Following his initiative, Facebook has changed its rules on branded or sponsored content from ordinary users who are paid by organisations for their advertising. Now, politicians are officially allowed to run their content on Facebook and Instagram, with the help of global influencers.
    • Bloomberg is not the only one to try to benefit from popular meme culture throughout the election season across the United States. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has also caused an uproar after publicly thanking a private Facebook meme group, New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens, for endorsing his campaign. Indeed, what a time to be alive.
    • And here goes another Democratic presidential nomination contender, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He also has a personal meme-support group on Facebook run by one of his adherents, who believes that memes act as a tool to get voters more familiar with presidential candidates.
    • The incumbent President Donald Trump also has a devoted follower and meme creator Carpe Donktum, whose works have often been shared by the POTUS himself. According to reports, the creator was once even invited to the Oval Office to meet the president.
    • One should be careful in using memes for political purposes though. Republican Rep. from Iowa Steve King has been under fire for using the iconic “Success Kid” meme for his fundraising campaign, with the mother of the photogenic child threatening to sue the politician. 
    • Democratic Sen. Bryan Townsend has also been under threat of resignation after posting a meme on Twitter, comparing conservative media personality Rush Limbaugh to a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
    • Meanwhile, the US House of Representative Nancy Pelosi’s recent grand gesture of publicly ripping apart President Trump’s State of the Union speech has apparently had the reverse effect. Instead of simply showing her obvious disregard for the leader of the US, Pelosi herself turned into a meme – and apparently a very successful one - often accompanied by such hashtags as #NancytheRipper or #PettyPelosi.
    Tags:
    instagram, Facebook, United States, meme, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Donald Trump, Michael Bloomberg, Nancy Pelosi
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