Can We at Least All Laugh Together Now? Twitter and Online Political Humor During the 2016 Election

  • Todd L. Belt


This chapter evaluates the differences in humorous content found on Twitter versus other social media sites during the 2016 presidential election. A content analysis of 700 humorous still images, memes, and cartoons demonstrates slight differences between the social media information environments. Humorous images in the Twitterverse tended to be slightly more partisan, invoke slightly more masculine stereotypes in portrayals of candidates, and were less likely to use emotionally evocative content. On both Twitter and elsewhere, humorous still images consisted largely of attacks and were relatively devoid of policy information. The results are explained in light of the nature of Twitter as a social media platform, specifically its character delimitation for text and the news orientation of its user base.


Twitter Political humor Partisanship Gender stereotypes 



The author is indebted to Madison Ferris, Ananya Hariharan, Tyler Hoffman, and Sarah Momsen-Jones for research assistance.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Todd L. Belt
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Political ScienceUniversity of Hawai‘i at HiloHiloUSA
  2. 2.John W. Kluge Fellow in Digital StudiesLibrary of CongressWashington, DCUSA

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