This 2016 election year will mark the largest use of social media in our countries history for the purpose of political marketing. Many political campaigns pay millions of dollars to hire third-party companies that specialize in spreading positive messages for their clients throughout social media. These messages include witty cartoons, user-made graphics and memes (unique viral messages that spread quickly online).
You may or may not have heard of the massive online social community of Reddit.com. Reddit has been around for many years, but this year its taken a particularly important role in politics for each presidential candidate. A user that goes by the online name of CisWhiteMalestrom created a special place for Donald Trump supporters on Reddit, called The_Donald, and it quickly grew into a dedicated community of active members. At the time of this article it has over 160,000 members, and its viral messages reach many more than that, as they usually reach the front page. Or I should say, they use to reach the front page easily before Reddit recently changed their algorithms to make their front page more “diverse.” Although many The_Donald users suspect this change was in reaction to their posts constantly reaching front page status.
What makes this sub-Reddit, the term for a group on Reddit, truly unique is its completely organic origins against massive odds. It’s no secret that the majority of Reddit users identify as liberal, and there has been a constant backlash against The_Donald from various other groups. One method of attacking is called “brigading” that involves members of other groups constantly down-voting The_Donald’s posts so that they are suppressed from the front page.
Another, and much more destructive, method of attack is called “doxxing.” This involves discovering a user’s personal information (name, address, phone number, employer, etc…) and threatening to leak this information online or to the media. This in turn may get that user fired from their job, ostracized by friends and potentially ruin their lives for a long period of time.
I personally think doxxing is the most vile, wicked method of an attack that a user can engage against another online. In an effort so silence someone you disagree with politically, would you really want to impact their personal lives to point of destruction? What does that prove? History has shown time and time again that whenever the leader of a passionate movement falls under attack, their followers become more passionate and eager to fight back. They will become even more motivated and rooted in their cause, which would be counter-productive to the user who doxxed them in the first place.
This exact scenario actually happened to the creator of The_Donald. CisWhiteMalestrom informed his community that he has been threatened with doxxing and ordered to resign as a moderator of that community or his information would be leaked to the media. They claimed he left enough breadcrumbs in his history of posts that allowed them to figure out his true identity.
A truely despicable act by the perpetrators. What did they accomplish? The_Donald is more active now than ever, and the users who did the doxxing have made a martyr of CisWhiteMalestrom, forever immortalized in the eyes of his followers and admired for his sacrifice.
Personally I have little fear of doxxing, as I’m so far out in the middle of no-where that I’d be impressed if anyone could find me even if I gave them directions. In fact, it would probably add some excitement to my otherwise mundane life. However, it remains a constant threat for many Trump supporters who only wish to express their opinions, which is a sad situation for any nation that allows free speech.
The fact remains that the passionate online community of The_Donald is a massive advantage for Trump and one that any political candidate would pay big bucks for. I was surprised by the resolve and excitement of their community as well as their unwavering dedication to the cause.
Visit /r/The_Donald and see it for yourself if you haven’t already. Actually, some of the posts and viral messages they come up with are quite cleaver. If you do some reading you may be surprised at the gems of wisdom you’ll find…if you get through the various memes of course.
Even if you disagree with Trump’s positions, do you think it justifies releasing someone’s personal information to the public in order to suppress their views?
Let me know.