Trump Backers Online Have New Term to Mock Liberals

'NPC' is a gaming term, but it's being used by Trump supporters on Reddit, 4Chan
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2018 11:48 AM CDT
Trump Backers Online Have New Term to Mock Liberals
The Twitter logo appears at the New York Stock Exchange.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Twitter has been making a series of moves to improve its platform, and one in particular has drawn attention by raising the profile of a pro-Trump meme used to troll liberals. If you've been seeing lots of references to "NPC," this would be why. Kevin Roose of the New York Times has an excellent explainer of what's going, and the BBC also digs in. Some of the highlights:

  • What is NPC? It's a gaming term that means "nonplayer character" or "nonplayable character"—that is, the game controls what they do. Trump supporters on Reddit and 4Chan adopted the term to refer to liberals who oppose the president. They say these critics don't think for themselves, just blindly follow people like John Oliver. Think "snowflakes."
  • The origin: The link seems to have started with a 4Chan user in 2016, per the BBC. "If you get in a discussion with them it's always the same buzzwords and hackneyed arguments," he wrote, using the NPC comparison. "It's like in a [video game] when you accidentally talk to somebody twice and they give you the exact lines word for word once more."

  • The meme: This joke mostly stayed within online Trump forums such as this one, but it has caught on more widely of late. See this tweet. As seen there, users often replace a person's face with that of an online figure known as NPC Wojak, a variation of longtime internet character Wojak, who "is often used as a reaction image to represent feelings such as melancholy, regret or loneliness," per Know Your Meme.
  • Can't lose: "Like a lot of conservative memes, the rhetoric helps insulate it from criticism. If a number of people claim they aren’t being brainwashed to fight the depiction, well, they’re just brainwashed to say that," writes Ellen Ioanes at the Daily Dot. "Any criticism of the meme’s logic is proof that you’re a stupid NPC sheep."
  • Twitter trouble: As Roose explains, this might have stayed relatively low-key, but the Trump backers began creating fictional Twitter accounts to further spread the meme. Twitter shut them all down over the weekend because some started putting up posts with false information, such as encouraging the anti-Trump crowd to vote on Nov. 7, a day after Election Day.
  • Another move: Twitter purged dozens of accounts on the left linked to the Occupy movement, reports Wired. Apparently, the "coordinated nature" of the accounts made them seem inauthentic.
  • And another: Twitter also released a ton of data, including more than 10 million tweets, believed to be linked to foreign entities who tried to improperly influence US elections, reports Business Insider. The company has previously acknowledged such posts, but it says the data dump will help researchers better understand the problem.
(More Twitter stories.)

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