Shut down violent political memes

Hannah Holliday | Cartoonist

The online community speaks its own language, filled with symbols and words with secret meanings. Two people from opposite sides of the world can bond over a meme, because of the implicit meanings behind it. As much camaraderie as internet humor brings, there is a right way to do it.

There are some things that just aren’t funny. Memes that threaten public safety should not be supported. These types of harmful posts should never have even been given enough attention for them to become viral. Yet, it happens all of the time.

Videos showing a fake President Donald Trump violently punching, shooting and stabbing news organizations and political opponents generated by “TheGeekzTeam,” an unidentified right-wing internet content creator, receive over 200,000 views. One of which was even shown at a pro-Trump rally in Miami earlier this month. Among the targets were CNN, PBS, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post, John McCain, Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton.

While these 200,000 YouTube views are not necessarily coming from “TheGeekzTeam” supporters, they still garnered attention to the channel’s work and potentially earning revenue for the creator. Controversy, unfortunately, sells.

Party affiliation continues to divide American society. Partisanship has elevated to a level in which 36% of Republicans view the Democratic Party as a threat to the nation’s well-being, and 27% vice versa, according to Pew Research.

With so much animosity surrounding politics, it is possible that threatening videos such as those generated by “TheGeekzTeam” fuels the fire of anger.

Within Twitter cancel culture, the temptation is to broadcast offensive posts to bring more attention to the atrocity. Amplifying their work, however, is often what Internet trolls want from their audiences. They want to elicit a reaction so strong that audiences feel compelled to share it with others.Don

After gaining so much attention, the original poster is then encouraged to continue creating vulgar content, knowing it will continue to dominate online dialogue. They post; people react. It becomes a vicious self-sustaining cycle.

The best protocol is to not give more attention to a meme than it deserves. If something is offensive, do not humor the creator with a hateful comment or share for others to add their own criticisms. Report it so that it can get taken down.

Each social media site has their own protocols for how they monitor content of their pages.

Twitter allows reporting individual tweets, media or profiles for violations including: “spam, abusive or harmful content, inappropriate ads, self-harm and impersonation.” Facebook reviews reports and removes any content that violates its Community Standards, which includes “language that incites or facilitates serious violence.” YouTube has a similar protocol using its own Community Guidelines.

Social media sites hold written-down standards for what is allowed on their site. We should also hold to our own convictions of what is appropriate and what deserves our attention.