Mapping Visual Themes among Authentic and Coordinated Memes

May 2022
PhoMemes Workshop of 2022 International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM-2022)

What distinguishes authentic memes from those created by state actors? I utilize a self-supervised vision model, DeepCluster, to learn low-dimensional visual embeddings of memes and apply K-means to jointly cluster authentic and coordinated memes without additional inputs. I find that authentic and coordinated memes share a large fraction of visual themes but with varying degrees. Coordinated memes from Russian IRA accounts promote more themes around celebrities, quotes, screenshots, military, and gender. Authentic Reddit memes include more themes with comics and movie characters. A simple logistic regression on the low-dimensional embeddings can discern IRA memes from Reddit memes with an out-sample testing accuracy of 0.84.

Spotlights
  • Collect coordinated IRA memes from Twitter and authentic memes from Reddit.
  • Cluster memes to find visual themes using self-supervised transfer learning.
  • Coordinated and authentic memes share visual themes but with different emphasis.