How #ReleaseTheMemo went viral

A social media intelligence group called New Media Frontier was used by Politico magazine to analyze the #ReleaseTheMemo that went viral just prior to Trump’s about-face decision to release a partisan-produced Senate Select Committee memo on the FBI investigation of Russian interference in our election.

It’s conclusion: the hashtag either originated from or was spread through computational propaganda.

Computational propaganda is using communication technology to influence behavior. It distorts and amplifies even fringe views in ways that we’ve not seen from communication technology before.

Scholars at the University of Oxford define it this way:

Computational propaganda is the use of algorithms, automation, and human curation to purposefully distribute misleading information over social media networks. 

The #ReleaseTheMemo came out of nowhere and moved from fringe social media to to mainstream media so fast it probably pushed Trump and other Republicans to action.  Critics of the memo say it is a purposeful misrepresentation of information meant to discredit the Russia probe and protect the president; supporters of the memo talk about the importance of transparency in the government–in this case, the FBI.

How did the hashtag go viral? A lot of it resulted from legitimate activity, helped by conservative media and lawmakers. But it was also pushed by a large number of newly created accounts and non-human campaigns.

A few hours after the hashtag was first typed, it was being used 250,000 times per hour.

By comparison: during a similar amount of time during the Women’s March—a million marchers demonstrated across the country—the #womensmarch2018 hashtag was used 87,000 times per hour. During the NFL playoff game the next day the #jaxvsNE was used 75,000 times per hour.

Click here to read the Politico article.


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