The secret network of political tweeters making debate memes go viral
In the aftermath of the second presidential debate, Facebook and Twitter lit up with two competing memes. One depicts a smiling Hillary Clinton, with the campaign slogan “I’m with her” superimposed in black text at the top of the screen. The second juxtaposes a photo of Clinton — shown in a menacing shade of red — with a photo of Donald Trump, standing in front of an American flag: “I have a different pledge,” it declares. “My pledge reads ‘I am with you, the American people.’ ”
Both images have been “liked” and shared tens of thousands of times on social media. But neither bubbled up on its own merits — they were prodded and boosted and given a leg up by their respective campaigns. While it may not be obvious to the casual Twitter user, both the Clinton and Trump camps have enlisted networks of supporters to amplify select, on-brand messages before and during the debates.
On Sunday, these networks were out in full force, retweeting dozens of designated slogans, memes and links; during the 90-minute debate, and in the hours preceding it, each campaign sent four email blasts instructing their bases on what to tweet.
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