Vote for Meme: Exploring the Use of Internet Meme Images on Facebook as a Tool for Political Commentary
Trinidad and Tobago has historically celebrated the practice of political commentary, often infused with humour and satire, most notably through the use of Calypso music. This practice continues in the present era, where the internet has become a major medium for communication. The internet meme, a new communication phenomenon, is one such tool through which political affairs are often joked about among Trinidadians, particularly in the form of images on the social networking website Facebook. This study adopts an exploratory approach towards the use of these images, specifically examining their role as communicators of news, and the effect this role may have on political knowledge. University students are the subjects of this research, being themselves ardent creators and proliferators of such content. Responses from student questionnaires highlighted the prevalence of this phenomenon among these students and showed that the images do perform an informing function, with possible effects on political knowledge. Findings also pointed to the popularity of social media, as a means through which many students are primarily informed about public and political affairs. The significance and implications of these findings are discussed, with recommendations for future research.
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