Of course, researching and studying online communities can be incredibly difficult. Contrary to popular belief, once something is posted on the Internet, it isn't necessarily "there forever." When I was in elementary school, I was constantly told that once something was online, it was impossible for it to ever be removed. The reasoning behind this is sound—encouraging young people to be cognizant of what information they share is incredibly important. However, the truth is that there is plenty of online content that has simply disappeared. People stop paying their web hosting bills, links fail to get updated, or perhaps in the countless petabytes of data old content simply gets forgotten. And in the case of 4chan, threads are regularly pruned and "content is usually available for only a few hours or days before it is removed." This ephemerality, combined with the anonymity afforded by the website, challenge traditional conventions of research. It isn't necessarily possible for someone to visit the same URL and access the same content. Given these challenges, I decided to work on creating an automated system to scrape 4chan content and save a local copy.
Memes, and social media more generally, are incredibly powerful tools that contribute to the normalization of ideas, beliefs, and overall culture. The things that we are exposed to in our social media feeds have significant potential to reinforce certain ideas, and perhaps misrepresent how commonplace and accepted they really are. Despite this significant power to … Continue reading A Mechanism of Normalization
This thesis examines Internet memes, a unique medium that has the capability to easily and seamlessly transfer ideologies between groups. It argues that these media can potentially enable subcultures to challenge, and possibly overthrow, hegemonic power structures that maintain the dominance of a mainstream culture. I trace the meme from its creation by Matt Furie … Continue reading Pepe the Frog: A Case Study of the Internet Meme and Its Potential Subversive Power to Challenge Cultural Hegemonies
In the wake of the 2016 Presidential election, there has been a lot of discussion on the issue of "fake news," and the notion of "media literacy." I agree that these are absolutely important issues to be addressing, but I think that if we're going to really tackle them head-on, we can't discount the value … Continue reading Fake News and the 2016 Election