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The rise and demise of a meme: A study on what a meme is and why people are spreading them
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Social media content, as well as how it is being used and the impact it has on the society, have underwent significant transformations and nowadays they are quite different from what they were when social media just came around. Analysing the transformations is important for understanding both the current state and further development of the technology that stands behind social media. One of the most noticeable aspects of today’s social media is the phenomenon of “internet memes”. An internet meme can be roughly defined as “a piece of culture, typically a joke, which gains influence through online transmission” (Davison, 2012). While memes play a substantial role in the use of social media and there has been growing interest in exploiting their potential for marketing and, more generally, conveying various types of messages, there has been a lack of HCI (Human Computer Interaction) research on memes. The understanding of how memes are perceived by social media users and how memes spread on social media is currently rather limited. The study reported in this thesis addresses the limitation of existing HCI research by presenting empirical evidence for the definition of memes, as well as memes' spreadability. Three online surveys (the total number of respondents:3161), targeting the users of the social media platforms Reddit and Facebook, were developed within the study. The social media platform Reddit was selected because it is a platform where memes are often created and also where they are moved to other platforms, like YouTube and Instagram. The study adopted a mixed method approach, combining the analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data. It is shown that memes are shared because they are found funny and that they are shared within the community or with friends. But if a meme spreads and becomes popular outside this original community, the meme loses its value to the original users. Some contents, like character memes, are much easier to spread, but just as soon as they become popular, they disappear.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 26
Series
Informatik Student Paper Master (INFSPM) ; SPM 2019.15
Keywords [en]
Internet meme, Reddit, Social media, Spreadability
National Category
Human Aspects of ICT Information Systems, Social aspects
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-162079OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-162079DiVA, id: diva2:1342276
Educational program
Master's Programme in Human-Computer Interaction
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-08-13 Created: 2019-08-13 Last updated: 2019-08-13Bibliographically approved

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Department of Informatics
Human Aspects of ICTInformation Systems, Social aspects

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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