How Trump and his Army Beat us Online

Democrats lost in 2016 because we weren’t even fighting on the same battlefield. Trump’s army stomped us. Here’s how they did it.

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I don’t have a fully formed opinion about why Hillary lost. Most of the post-mortems I’ve read come off as people expressing the same beliefs they held before November. Which is fine but not all that interesting to me.

What I do have is a framework of how the right stomped us online. This is something I’ve been tweaking since a week after the election. I’ve written about some of these themes individually before. For our last newsletter of 2016, I’d like to share my framework in full with you. Here’s how they did it:

  1. They understood authenticity over truth Stephen Colbert coined the term truthiness in 2006. Merriam-Webster defines “truthiness” as “…believing something is true from the gut, or inside. Using life experiences of learnings to make something seem true.” Colbert was joking at the time, but he was on point about how right wing media operates. The perception of authenticity wins over truth every time, and Trump’s digital army grasped how a key component of the perception of authenticity is that truth doesn’t come from an institution. They were banking that people are more likely to believe something from an unofficial source that seems true than something from an official source that actually is true.

I believe the left can adopt many of these tactics for our own purposes. Currently, I’m working on a companion framework for the left, and what we can do to better engage online. I’d love to hear your ideas and feedback in the comments as well.

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The above is an excerpt from Ctrl Alt Right Delete, an email newsletter devoted to understanding how the right operates online and develop strategies and tactics to fight back.

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Want to continue the conversation? You can also find me on Twitter @melissaryan and on Facebook.

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Politics + technology. Author of Ctrl Alt Right Delete newsletter. Subscribe here: https://goo.gl/c74Vva. Coffee drinker. Kentucky basketball fan.

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Melissa Ryan

Politics + technology. Author of Ctrl Alt Right Delete newsletter. Subscribe here: https://goo.gl/c74Vva. Coffee drinker. Kentucky basketball fan.