Since the invention of the printing press, mass movements have made extensive use of new media technologies as a tool for growing the movement. Fascist messaging functions by appealing to the socially or economically frustrated, and portraying the movement as a means of escaping the real or imagined crimes of some over-arching oppressor. It appears that the model used by later movements was derived directly from observation of the rise of the Protestant Church in Europe. The rise of Protestantism across Europe was framed as a revolt against the excesses of the Catholic Church, and the movement was facilitated by Gutenberg’s creation of the printing press, use of which led to the Bible becoming the all-time best-selling book in world history. The Nazi Party of Germany and the Fascisti of Italy used radio to broadcast the speeches of Hitler and Mussolini, along with party newspapers that provided regular updates on party dogma from carefully vetted propaganda lieutenants.
The Trump campaign used a “five-factor personality model” targeting method and social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to grow the MAGA movement in the months leading up to the 2016 Presidential election. Effective use of mass media to grow a mass movement appears to follow a single recurring pattern. That pattern consists of using mass media and social media to “condition” followers to replace spontaneous conversation with the loyal repetition of party slogans, and discussion of talking points raised by the charismatic leader.
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