Meme extraction and tracing in crisis events

Saike He, Xiaolong Zheng, Jiaojiao Wang, Zhijun Chang, Yin Luo, Dajun Zeng

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations


The proliferation of social media has increased the competition among different memes, which can be free texts, trending catchphrases, or micro media. As human attention is limited, these memes compete with each other, and go in and out of popularity at a rapid pace, sometimes even faster than we can recognize. Popular memes often shape the mindsets of online communities, and also shed light on their future tendencies. Considering the huge volume of memes generated and their continuous mutations, extracting and tracing online memes automatically is rather challenging. In this paper, we propose an automatic meme extraction algorithm. The proposed algorithm extracts massive memes based on phrases independency, and clusters phrase variants of a single meme efficiently. Evaluation on measles outbreak in the USA in 2015 indicates that the proposed algorithm could extract typical memes reflecting the fierce campaign between the pro-vaccination community and the anti-vaccination community. In both communities, memes are power-law distributed, and popular ones have many variants that appear more frequently. By tracing the evolution of online memes, we uncover that popular memes converge and generate peaks at times. Though the pro-vaccination community and the anti-vaccination community may focus on similar memes, they comprehend memes from totally different perspectives and deliver opposing opinions of measles vaccination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIEEE International Conference on Intelligence and Security Informatics
Subtitle of host publicationCybersecurity and Big Data, ISI 2016
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781509038657
StatePublished - Nov 15 2016
Externally publishedYes
Event14th IEEE International Conference on Intelligence and Security Informatics, ISI 2015 - Tucson, United States
Duration: Sep 28 2016Sep 30 2016


Other14th IEEE International Conference on Intelligence and Security Informatics, ISI 2015
CountryUnited States


  • accessor variety
  • meme extraction
  • meme tracing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality

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