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Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States and the first African American to hold the office. He was sworn into office on January 20th, 2009 and won the Democratic nomination for re-election on September 5th, 2012.
Obama was first brought to national attention during 2004, which included his March victory in the Illinois’ Democratic primary for the Senate and his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July, as shown in the search interest chart provided by Google Trends. Obama officially announced his presidential campaign in February of 2007 and earned the Democratic party’s nomination after a close victory over Hillary Rodham Clinton in the primary election. Barack Obama and Joe Biden were sworn into the office in of January 2009 after defeating John McCain and Sarah Palin.
The Birther Movement refers to fringe theorists known as “birthers,” who believe that United States President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore ineligible for presidency.
Osama bin Laden’s Death
Osama bin Laden was the founder of al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States, along with many other terrorist attacks against civilian and military targets. In early May 2011, after almost ten years of manhunt in the Middle East, bin Laden was killed by the U.S. Special Forces in Pakistan. The news of his death was welcomed throughout much of the world and the Internet.
The U.S. Healthcare Reform, commonly referred to as Obamacare, refers to the legislation of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (HCERA) that were signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama in March 2010. The constitutionality of PPACA was subsequently challenged by a majority of the U.S. states and organizations in federal court, which came to a closure on June 28th, 2012, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the mandate was a tax and therefore fell under Congress’ taxing authority.
Barack Obama and his social media staff are very active online, often interacting with constituents via Twitter and Tumblr. On July 6th, 2011, Obama held the first virtual Town Hall meeting by soliciting questions via the hashtag #AskObama. After receiving 169,395 tweets, an algorithm was used to identify the tweets that were engaged with the most by either favorites or retweets from a panel of selected Twitter users. The chosen questions were then read live to the president, who tweeted his answers.
That October, Barack Obama established a Tumblr blog, allowing users to submit stories about the President and his 2012 campaign. The account also reblogs relevant images, GIFs, videos and text posts supporting Obama, as well as making posts that are pop culture relevant. On October 3rd, 2012, the account posted a GIF from the 2004 comedy film Mean Girls to remind people to tune in to that night’s debate with Mitt Romney, which accrued more than 69,000 notes. As of November 2nd, 2012, the “Barack Obama” Facebook page has accumuated over 31.6 million likes and the @BarackObama Twitter account has received over 21.6 million followers.
On August 29th, 2012, Obama started a reddit AMA thread titled “I am Barack Obama, President of the United States”. The post reached 15,000 upvotes within an hour and reddit was briefly shut down due to the heavy traffic.
Facebook Censorship Allegations
On October 28th, 2012, Facebook removed a post made by the “Special Operation Speaks” (SOS) conservation political organization which included an image macro featuring photos of Obama next to Osama bin Laden with the caption “Obama called the SEALs and THEY got bin Laden / When the SEALs called Obama, they got denied” (shown below). After being notified by Facebook that the image violated the companies statement of rights and responsibilities, SOS reuploaded the image, resulting in a 24-hour freeze of their account.
On October 30th, the current events blog Breitbart published a post titled “Facebook reverses, allows SEALs’ Post Critical of Obama,” which reported that Facebook manager Andrew Noyes had informed Breitbart that the removal of the image was an error and not an act of censorship. The same day, comedian Dennis Miller tweeted that Obama was responsible for the removal of the image macro (shown below).
Obama shuts down Facebook on Benghazi posts. Only 6 days now people. breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2012…
— DennisMillerLive (@DennisMillerFU) October 31, 2012
On October 31st, Slate published an article titled “Did Facebook Censor an Anti-Obama Meme?”, which included another statement from Notes stating that the take down was a result of a User Operations Team member removing an image they shouldn’t have.
Injury Rumor on Twitter
At 1:07 p.m. (ET) on April 23rd, 2013, The Associated Press (AP) reported that President Obama had been injured in an explosion at the White House via its Twitter account.
Three minutes later, AP reporter Sam Hananel tweeted that the news agency’s Twitter account has been hacked and the message should be ignored.
Please Ignore AP Tweet on explosions, we’ve been hacked.— Sam Hananel (@SamHananelAP) April 23, 2013
Despite Hananel’s correction, the message became retweeted more than 3,000 times in the span of four minutes before Twitter suspended the account at 1:14 p.m. (ET), according to The Next Web. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average immediately plummeted (shown below) in response to the false rumor, though it quickly rebounded once the tweet was debunked as a lie.
Within the next hour, AP reporter Mike Baker confirmed via Twitter that the account had been hacked not long after several staff members received phishing emails (shown below). That same day, the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) took responsibility for the hack via its Twitter account @Official_SEA6, which was subsequently suspended. In the months leading up to the AP hack, the group managed to compromise the accounts of the BBC Weather, NPR and 60 Minutes.
<a href="https://twitter.com/ap">ap</a> hack came less than an hour after some of us received an impressively disguised phishing email.</p>— Mike Baker (MikeBakerAP) April 23, 2013
David Ortiz’ Selfie with Obama
On April 1st, 2014, Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz tweeted a selfie with President Obama during his visit to the White House with his teammates. Seven minutes after Ortiz tweeted the photo, it was retweeted by Samsung’s Mobile US account to its 5.2 million followers with the caption: "Big Papi, Big Selfie. RT @DavidOrtiz What an honor! Thanks for the #selfie, @BarackObama " In the following week, Ortiz’ tweet gained more than 42,000 retweets and 49,000 favorites.
The selfie was quickly revealed as a marketing stunt staged for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphone, which prompted the White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer to release a statement during his TV appearance on CBS Face the Nation on April 6th:
“In general, whenever someone tries to use the president’s likeness to promote a product, that’s a problem. We’ve had conversations with Samsung about this and have expressed our concerns.”
““Maybe this will be the end of all selfies.”
On April 7th, Pfeiffer’s remarks were repeatedly quoted in the news as a hint that presidential selfies may soon be banned, but when asked for more details, the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday there’s “no discussion of a ban” on presidential selfies. Meanwhile, Samsung acknowledged that Ortiz had a sponsorship deal with the company but insisted that the selfie itself wasn’t premeditated.
Usage of Verbal Pauses
Though Barack Obama is known as an exceptional orator, he is often critiqued for his use of non-lexical fillers such as “huh” and “umm.” In March 2008, late night host David Letterman compiled a supercut of one of the President’s speeches in order to count how many times he used these verbal pauses.
In March 2009, blogger Bob McCarty analyzed a textual transcript of a White House news conference, finding the President used a version of “huh” a total of 319 times, once every nine seconds. Since he has been elected, Obama has been criticized for this manner of speech by several outlets including on Yahoo! Answers, political blog Hot Air, news blog The Blaze and as a part of Obama’s portrayal on Saturday Night Live.
Obama has often been the subject of videos, image macros and animated GIFs. On April 6th, 2012, the tech news blog Mashable published a post titled “10 Barack Obama Memes Worthy of Your Vote,” which featured several notable animated GIFs of the president (shown below, top).
The Hope Poster
The Obama “Hope” Poster is an iconic image of Obama created by graphic designer and street artist Shepard Fairey during the 2008 United States presidential election. Made with a stylized stencil of an Associated Press photograph of then U.S. Senator Obama, the posters were created independently of the official campaign. After the image was shared online, parodies of the poster depicting other notable figures and characters began appearing as well, mimicking the red, beige and blue color scheme of the original version.
Brock Obama is a fictional hybrid character combining President Obama and Brock, one of the main trainer characters from the anime series Pokémon. The character is usually manifested in the form of photoshopped images with Brock’s head or face superimposed onto portrait images of Obama or President Obama’s face placed onto pictures of Brock. On some occasions, character images of rock-type Pokémons like Geodude or Onix may be added into background for humorous effect.
Zombie McCain is a photoshop meme that spawned from a puzzling photo of four-time Arizona Senator John McCain taken shortly after the third and final presidential debate with Obama in October 2008. The photograph captured the Republican nominee in an awkward stance with his tongue hanging out, rendering itself exploitable to Internet users.
Obama Rage Face
Obama Rage Face (also known as “Not Bad” Face) is a rage comic reaction face based on a press photograph of Obama wearing a sturgeon face during his official state visit to the United Kingdom in May 2011. The image is used as a positive response to a pleasant surprise or an outcome of an event that has surpassed one’s expectation, similar to the usage of “everything went better than expected” face.
The Situation Room
The Situation Room is a photoshop meme based on an official photograph of Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, Joseph Biden and other members of the National Security Council gathered in the White House Situation Room for an updated briefing on Operation Neptune Spear, which resulted in capture and death of Osama bin Laden. In the following days, the photograph received massive attention and spawned dozens of parodies.
Upvoting Obama is an advice animal image macro series featuring Obama with a beer giving a thumbs up while making a sturgeon face resembling the one he wears in the Not Bad rage face. The images are primarily used on Reddit to express one’s approval of a post.
Inappropriate Timing Bill Clinton
Inappropriate Timing Bill Clinton is an image macro series featuring a photo of an enthusiastic-looking former United States President Bill Clinton walking on stage to join an exhausted-looking President Obama. The macros are typically captioned with inappropriate jokes associated with Clinton’s past sex scandals.
Wizard Obama is an image macro series based on a perfectly timed photograph of President Obama in which he appears to be conjuring an orb of energy or wielding a crystal ball. The captions typically portray Obama as a possessor of magical power or wizardry skills.
You Didn’t Build That
You Didn’t Build That is a quote uttered by Obama during his campaign speech in Roanoke, Virginia on July 13th, 2012. While it was intended to emphasize the role of government in fostering the growth of American businesses, the soundbite quickly disseminated across the conservative political blogosphere and spawned a bipartisan debate on income taxes and other economic policy issues.
Cell Phone Photo
In late October of 2012, an Associated Press photographer took a picture of Obama on the phone at a campaign fundraiser event in Orlando, Florida (shown below). According to a tweet by ABC news reporter Devin Dwyer on October 28th, the photo was taken after Obama realized the he had called the wrong number.
“Hi is this Ann? Hi, is this Ann? Oh, I’m sorry, I must have the wrong number.”
On November 1st, 2012, Redditor Liberationdemonology submitted the photograph to the /r/pics subreddit in a post titled “My New Favorite Picture of President Obama.” Within 24 hours, the post received over 53,500 up votes and 2,400 comments, which included several image macros and animated GIFs (shown below). The following day, notable examples from the Reddit post were highlighted on the Internet news blogs The Daily Dot and UpRoxx.
“Thanks, Obama!” is a sarcastic expression used by critics of President Barack Obama to blame personal troubles and inconveniences on public policies supported or enacted by the administration. The phrase is often used to caption animated GIFs in which the subject appears to be struggling with a rather simple task, satirizing those who scapegoat Obama as the cause of problems for which he has little or no influence.
Obama is Checking Your Email
On June 6th, 2013, The Guardian published an article reporting on a secret United States National Security Agency (NSA) program named “PRISM”, which granted the agency the power to gain direct access to search history, emails, file transfers and live chats from various Internet services, including those provided by Google, Facebook and Apple. On June 8th, the “Obama is Checking Your Email” Tumblr blog was launched to mock the Obama administration’s involvement in the surveillance scandal, highlighting various photographs of Obama staring at computer monitors and smart phone screens as if he is spying on private citizens (shown below).
Two days later on June 10th, several news and tech sites highlighted notable examples from the Tumblr blog, including BuzzFeed, The Daily Dot, Mashable and the New York Daily News. The same day, Redditor sligowaths posted a link to the blog on the /r/toosoon subreddit, where it gained upwards of 820 up votes and 40 comments in the first 24 hours.
h2. Search Interest
The Daily Dot – Obamas Wrong Number Face Features GIFs and Remixes
The Daily Dot – Barack Obama was not injured in a White House explosion
Business Insider – AP Twitter Hacked, Claims Barack Obama Injured In White House Explosions
NY Daily News – Tumblr spoof page Obama Is Checking Your Email goes viral