October 8, 2018

NEVER EVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER

'A betrayal beyond words': The far right melts down over Taylor Swift's endorsement of Democrats (Avi Selk October 8, 2018, Washington Post)

That a 28-year-old celebrity -- even one who had previously kept her politics private -- would weigh in on a potentially crucial midterm election seems much less strange than the story of how the far-right Internet came to believe Swift was their secret ally -- "our girl," as many put it.

The delusion traces back to the middle of the Obama administration, 2011, when a certain fraction of 4chan users convinced themselves that Swift had let them name her cat.

In some ways, it's not much different from how every other conspiracy theory arises out of nonsense on that anonymous message board:

Among the hundreds of thousands of posts written on 4chan that November, one was a kitten-naming contest. The winning name was Meredith, which -- lo and behold -- was also the name of Swift's new kitten, according to a People Magazine article that 4chan users subsequently passed around in astonishment.

The fact that Swift had named her kitten Meredith at least three days before the contest was held made little difference to those who convinced themselves she was a secret 4chan user. Amateur sleuths began sifting through the website in search of more supposed secret messages from the pop star, coming up with a photo of someone's window blinds that looked like Swift's and an anonymous message from a "conservative" "entertainer" who claimed to be "one of the 50 most famous people on the planet."

A myth that began with a kitten took a dark turn a few years later, when a neo-Nazi blogger came across a joke meme that mashed up photos of Swift with quotes from Adolf Hitler. He apparently mistook these as authentic and published them on the Daily Stormer under the headline: "Aryan Goddess Taylor Swift: Nazi Avatar of the White European People."

Posted by at October 8, 2018 9:53 PM

  

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