The Brief: Memes showing support for President Trump's 2020 reelection appear on various social media platforms, expressing a range of views and reasons people are supporting him as a candidate.
The extent to which memes play a role in elections isn’t entirely clear, but many meme-makers dedicated to spreading pro-Trump content will claim at least partial credit for winning what they call the “Great Meme War” leading up to the 2016 election. Regardless of the role that online armies of trolls, meme-makers, and outspoken Trump supporters played in his 2016 win, one defining characteristic of pro-Trump memes is that they are intertwined with messages relating to white supremacy, neo-Nazism, and other hateful rhetoric.
While not every meme that frames Trump’s presidency and reelection in a positive light is racist or hate-filled on its own, pro-Trump memes have historically been embedded in toxic and even violent online communities. As various pro-Trump social media groups and communities are banned from mainstream apps like Reddit, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok, they often move to more fringe platforms like 4chan and 8chan or to more private chat-based platforms like Discord and Telegram.
One of the largest and best-known communities dedicated to pro-Trump memes was the subreddit The Donald. In June 2020, The Donald, which has no official connections with President Trump, was banned from Reddit after violating the site’s rules. While not dedicated to Trump memes, the subreddit r/conservative can be a source of content that favors the president.
Memes posted or reposted by President Trump, his supporters, and members of his family have come under fire for including violent, false, and/or hateful messaging. At times, Twitter has added disclaimers to Trump’s tweets to inform readers that they contain misleading or otherwise questionable information.
By sharing memes from his supporters, Donald Trump leans into these modern methods of communication and expresses his agreement with certain views.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2020
Donald Trump Jr. is well-known for posting memes favoring his father and insulting his opponents on Instagram and Twitter.
On TikTok, videos associated with the hashtag #Trump2020 have been viewed over 12.5 billion times. A “Republican Hype House” account has over 900,000 followers and @conservativehypehouse has over 1.5 million followers. Both of these groups, as well as many individual TikTokers, use their platforms to post pro-Trump content on the app.
Although many pro-Trump internet groups have had issues with perpetuating hateful ideology and symbols, memes, and communities that show their support for the President continues to thrive online, across social media platforms.