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Study traces the origins and diffusion of image memes online

An instance picture meme. The researchers’ technique robotically teams memes with related photos and textual content, accounting for variations in encoding, decision, watermark, visible filter, or side ratio. Credit: Morina & Bernstein.

Memes, photos or movies with textual content overlays that convey humorous messages to particular audiences are a well known international phenomenon. As they have an inclination to quickly flow into on-line and change into viral rapidly, memes are additionally typically included in advertising and social engagement methods.

As a result of velocity at which they flow into on-line, tracing the origin of memes will not be at all times straightforward. Some media researchers consider that they’re first subtle in marginal internet communities after which launched into mainstream platforms, whereas behavioral scientists really feel that they usually stem from intermediate networks that join peripheral and mainstream communities.

Researchers at Stanford University have just lately carried out a big web-scale evaluation aimed toward testing these two completely different hypotheses and figuring out the standard sources of picture memes on-line. Their findings are set to be offered on the ACM Convention on Pc-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, a top-tier worldwide occasion showcasing the newest human-computer interplay analysis.

“Our paper arose from the question: Where does internet culture come from?” Michael S. Bernstein, one of many researchers who carried out the research, informed Tech Xplore. “We’re surrounded by memes and other forms of internet culture; but which communities are originating the content that we see around us every day? The research narrative—including my own prior research—suggests that lots of influential memes come from communities outside of the mainstream, while sociological research suggests that communities bridging between the mainstream and the periphery are the most influential culturally.”

Whereas many previous papers have mentioned the doable origins of viral content material on the web, up to now no-one had performed a web-scale evaluation of memes to obviously observe down their supply. Bernstein and his colleague Durim Morina got down to fill this hole within the literature, particularly inspecting the origin and dissemination of picture memes.

Firstly, the researchers began searching the net to determine online communities that put up picture memes in English. Subsequently, they used computer vision techniques embedded in fashionable cloud imaginative and prescient APIs to trace the dissemination of every picture backward, to find out which communities they had been circulated by and the place they originated from.

“This ended up giving us a large set of communities that we could track,” Bernstein defined. “We then manually wrote scripts that would monitor all the activity on any of those communities on the web, pull down copies of every meme that got posted to it, and use the cloud vision API to verify that it had never been seen before on the public web. This gave us what we needed: the ability to track each copy of an image meme back to the community that first posted it on the public web and to identify every time it was later spread elsewhere.”

General, the findings gathered by Bernstein and Morina recommend that web memes don’t originate from peripheral communities, however that they’re extraordinarily centralized. Extra particularly, they discovered that almost all picture memes are first revealed on Reddit after which shared on different platforms.

These findings might have attention-grabbing implications for media-related analysis. As an example, they might finally encourage the event of extra particular, evidence-based theories concerning the traits with which picture memes are disseminated on-line.

“Our analysis showed that rare transformative memes may still be coming from the periphery, but day-to-day, most of the content you’re seeing is first posted on a mainstream platform,” Bernstein added. “Our next work will involve making memes, but I think it’s also important for us to consider whether we’re happy with the centralization of internet culture. You get large audiences by posting on Reddit, TikTok, and so on, but subcommunities play important roles in our culture and it’s not clear that our social media designs are supporting that as well as they could yet.”

Got pandemic anxiety? You might relate more to COVID memes than non-anxious people

Extra info:
Durim Morina et al, A Internet-Scale Evaluation of the Neighborhood Origins of Picture Memes, Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Pc Interplay (2022). DOI: 10.1145/3512921

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Examine traces the origins and diffusion of picture memes on-line (2022, April 28)
retrieved 28 April 2022

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