Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Frontiers in Communication




547065 (1-14)


Internet memes are one of the latest evolutions of “leaflet” propaganda and an effective tool in the arsenal of digital persuasion. In the past such items were dropped from planes, now they find their way into social media across multiple platforms and their territory is global. Internet memes can be used to target specific groups to help build and solidify tribal bonds. Due to the ease of creation, and their ability to constantly reaffirm axiomatic tribal ideas, they have become an adroit tool allowing for mass influence across international borders. This text explores the link between internet memes and their ability to “hack” the attention of anyone connected to internet using dense modality and cognitive biases. Furthermore, the text discusses Internet meme's ability sew discord by consistently reaffirming preexisting tribal bonds and their relation to traditional PSYOP tactics initially used for analog leaflet propaganda.


© 2021 Nieubuurt.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

Original Publication Citation

Nieubuurt, J. T. (2021). Internet memes: Leaflet propaganda of the digital age. Frontiers in Communication, 5, 1-14, Article 547065.