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Facebook memes in 2016 US presidential polls had no gender stereotypes

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New York, Feb 1 (IANS) Facebook political memes of US President Donald Trump in the 2016 election focussed more on his hairstyle and facial expressions, while those of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton were more centered on the email scandal and her relationships — a contrast to historical gender stereotypes in politics, a study has found.

Typically, the coverage of male political candidates focuses on their policy and history in office, while coverage of females focuses more on their personality and appearance as a frame for their ability to hold political office in terms of their roles of mothers and wives.

The study, published in the journal Social Media + Society, found that Trump Facebook page profile photos questioned his physical features — such as hairstyle and skin tone — as well as political and leadership skills.

On the other hand, Clinton-themed pages often included the idea that she is crooked and out-of-touch with average citizens.

Profile photos for Clinton meme pages also were more likely to emphasise the email scandal, Clinton’s wealth and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

"This study is one of the first to offer a glimpse at the type of Facebook pages that emerged during the political race, profile photos use, popularity of the pages and an examination of how citizens used humour during the 2016 election," said lead researcher Mia Moody-Ramirez, Professor at Baylor University.

"With the 2020 presidential election on the horizon, it is important to understand the impact of memes, which are easy to create and share on social media platforms."

The study examined an equal number of Clinton and Trump-themed pages for a sample of 106 pages — 53 for each politician.

In the Facebook pages that were positive, Trump was depicted as patriotic; Clinton was depicted as a leader. But more commonly, pages for both were negative.

When it came to tone in the 106 presidential election Facebook-meme pages, 44 were negative, 37 were positive and the remaining 25 were neutral.

 

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