How memes became a major vehicle for misinformation – By Sara Fischer & Alison Snyder (Axios) / Feb 23 2021
Wall Street’s populist uprising, the Capitol siege and a strong U.S. anti-vaccination movement show the power of memes in spreading misinformation and influencing communities online.
Why it matters: For years, there’s been growing concern that deepfakes (doctored pictures and videos) would become truth’s greatest threat. Instead, memes have proven to be a more effective tool in spreading misinformation because they’re easier to produce and harder to moderate using artificial intelligence.
- “When we talk abut deepfakes, there are already companies and technologies that can help you understand their origin,” says Shane Creevy, head of editorial for Kinzen, a disinformation tracking firm. “But I’m not aware of any tech that really helps you understand the origin of memes.”
Catch up quick: A meme is a piece of mixed media, usually text laid over a photo or video, that is designed to go viral, often through humor.
- Some memes can be lighthearted, like the viral Bernie Sanders mittens meme from Inauguration day. But many memes are meant to be deceptive, or prey upon fears and biases.