Memes are funny viral internet trends that have surfaced on social media sites. While they are commonly used for fun between friends, they also have larger implications that were evident during the United Kingdom’s general election. Memes about the politicians of both parties popped up on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram during the weeks before voting. They swayed some votes with particularly entertaining content and jokes. One voter from Glasgow reported, “some memes were really impactful…although they were just meant for humor, they really hit home on some of these issues.” The most successful memes included animations and caricatures of the candidates. As with any good meme, the text on the bottom referred to social issues or traits of the candidates. While it is not known whether the candidates themselves saw any memes, their staff certainly did. Both parties declined to further comment on the phenomenon.
Most experts agree that memes are not a form of corruption in any manner. They are free forms of expression on social media, and because they reach such a large audience, their effects are felt around the world. However, there is a fine line between memes and fake news. It is easy for designers to alter memes to contain faulty information that could skew the outcome of an election. It is up to users to determine which memes are valid and which ones are sinister. In any case, memes are a relative newcomer to politics. A few decades ago, it would have been difficult to imagine a society where humorous cartoons have such large impacts on elections. Memes are the most common in the United Kingdom and America. In addition, certain sites are more susceptible to this medium than others. Overall, we should respect that memes and politics go in tandem, and when it comes to advertisement, they truly are powerful images.