When following a subject as broad as Hillary Clinton (pun not intended) and in essence the entire presidential campaign of 2016, you have to narrow down the scope to glean any significant analysis. If the campaign’s strategy was to promote an inspiring message of unity while also attacking her opponent on Twitter, then it stands to reason a similar strategy is being employed on Facebook. As mentioned in the previous blog post and many other places, the Clinton campaign’s message discipline and organizational efficiency is a major advantage.
As expected, the campaign’s Facebook account is following the pattern it maintains on Twitter. One positive post:
follows a negative post:
that follows a positive post:
that follows a negative post:
Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
Of course, as Facebook’s interactivity is different than that of Twitter’s, different methods to spread the same messages are employed. Many more videos, for example, are shared by the campaign through Facebook. As expected, negative videos are more popular than videos with a positive message.
However before video on Facebook became so prolific, photographs were the dominate form of media shared on the site. That remains true today as the average age of the Facebook user increases and younger users migrate to video specific platforms such as Snapchat. Especially popular are photos of the candidate next to a quote that reinforces the campaign’s theme.
These kind of memes are ubiquitous across the internet and social media. They are heavily shared by political ideologues on either side and Facebook is no exception, if not the primary depository of them. They are effective because they are easily digestible and to the point. The text being a quote gives it more weight because it the subject’s own words. Furthermore, our culture has for many years had a fascination with quotes. It’s even one of the fields to fill out in an individual Facebook Profile.
The danger with these memes and their proliferation across Facebook was perhaps stated best by our 16th President.
Truer words have never been (bot not actually)said. John Oliver even created a site so everyone can get in on the fun. However, as we make light of it, to the uninformed casual viewer it often becomes difficult to separate the correct from the false. In many instances, and certainly in this campaign,that is the intent.
These tactics are used primarily to discredit candidates and are rarely created by the campaigns. They do however often pick up from themes the campaigns create and continue the direction they set forth.
All of the above quotes were never said, at least not by Hillary Clinton. However, the recent push has been to win over the hearts and minds of suburban women, as illustrated in the bottom right meme.
That meme is intended to take away the supposed advantage the 1st woman presidential nominee by a major party is assumed to have through identity politics. The meme is not designed to depict a moral less lawyer, but a woman who is not only indifferent to, but mocks, child rape.
Less prominent now are the blatantly mysogonistic Facebook photo meme shares, but they still exist. The most popular one is still in circulation.
Without knowing who created the image, it is not difficult to understand this is designed by men for men, and shared primarily by men.
The attacks now, however, go after Secretary Clinton’s credibility as a woman. It’s reminiscent of a no less distasteful question posed about the first black president.
Trump and surrogates are focussing on bringing up former president Bill Clinton’s affairs at every opportunity, not to attack him necessarily, but to attack Secretary Clinton for them. The tactic is to label her as an enabler, almost a traitor to women. This talking point has trickled down to his supporter and her detractors on Facebook.
As the above image shows, this tactic began earlier in the year, but is ramping up currently.
The Clinton campaign has responded by attacking Donald Trump on his own past of derogatory remarks about women, infidelities, and potential harassment. Again, others have taken the campaign’s lead by creating the Donal Trump Sexism Tracker.
More effective, however, is how Secretary Clinton framed her candidacy in the beginning as far as identity politics are concerned. Her Facebook profile lists her as a “wife, mom, and grandma” before any other (seriously impressive) public service or career accomplishments.
And returning to where we began at quotes, she’s chosen one by the inspirational Eleanor Roosevelt to appeal to the feminist tradition of independent and strong women, as well as popular and forever playing on basic cable 1992 female centric film “A League of Their Own” to identify with that films primary audience: late 30’s to late 40’s suburban moms.