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Virality and Morphogenesis of Right Wing Internet Populism

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Eva Kimminich and Julius Erdmann

Information and its individual interpretations are highly discussed in social media. Their use and misuse is an important subject for cultural and media studies. The theoretical framework of this volume is based on a synopsis of socio-constructivist and semiotic paradigms, which permit insight into ongoing adjustments of the social perception of reality and the thereby changing benchmarks. The assembled micro-studies concentrate primarily on right-wing Internet populism in Germany, France and Italy and allow a more precise idea of the effects the disseminated myths, metaphors and memes can have: Becoming viral, they can have an influence on a society’s semiosphere, i.e.on common sense and social life.

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Against Virality

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Buzz and Spreadability on the Web

Abstract: In this article, the use of biologic metaphors in communication is criticized as simplistic, and it is claimed that the idea of virality is inadequate for the analysis of the online spread of texts. After that, an overview on the importance of the structure of the virtual space in which these textualities move is proposed. The focus is particularly on social networks’ feeds and on how their algorithms shape and direct the semiotic buzz around texts influencing their visibility and, therefore, their spreadability.

Keywords: Virality, Spreadability, Buzz, Feed, Web structure

1Introduction

This article aims at proposing a reflection on the dynamics of widespread diffusion of online content that goes beyond the metaphorical use of biological terminology. These sorts of metaphors are improper and end up eliminating many important communicative elements from the proposed model. Finally, they give birth to analyses that are incapable of taking into account the complexity of the phenomenon. Specifically, I focus on the structure of the communicative space within which online textualities move and spread. The features of the medium – or the media – shaping online information in fact heavily influences the development and circulation of texts. It is believed that purely textual content analyses of texts that reach great diffusion online, as well as explanations that focus solely on the passional and communicative reactions of the subjects exposed to such textualities, are not sufficient and efficacious in helping us...

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