Workshop Proceedings of the 16th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media

DOI: 10.36190/2022.41

Published: 2022-06-01
Political Internet Memes and Political Learning: an Experimental Approach
Giovanni Schiazza

This study considers the effects that Political Internet Memes (PIMs) have on the levels of political knowledge in users. This study first explores the literature from memes, political knowledge, and political comedy. To investigate causality, the study employs a 2x2 survey embedded experiment on an online sample (N=545) from Prolific. Results suggest that people do indeed learn political information from Political Internet Memes, but notably less than if they would by reading a news article. PIMs are found not to have much impact on feelings towards the victim of the humour. The learning pattern remains constant even when controlling for socio-demographic factors known to influence political learning. However, PIMs learning might be influenced by separate socio-demographic factors. Further, PIMs exposure appears to impact participants' confidence in their political knowledge. The study has implications for the study of PIMs, social media, and political knowledge.