Digital Resistance through Internet Memes: A Case Study of Digital Mobilization in Pakistan

Internet has become a political battleground in Pakistan. This battle is fought with memes and targeted internet cutdowns. During the election 2024 period, Pakistan’s 128 million internet users faced frequent internet disruptions and digital darkness, including restricted mobile networks. In response, internet memes have emerged as a form of resistance and a tool to communicate political satire. Humour and satire have long been utilized as a tool to resist and challenge political oppression, in Pakistan, netizens are using memes to amplify their opposition against internet censorship. They have created groups on social media platforms like Facebook where they keep each other informed and mobilized. Many of these groups are administered by the supports of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), a political party formed by a former cricketer Imran Khan. He also became the first politician from Pakistan to deliver an AI-generated speech from prison cell to campaign for the general elections 2024 during a virtual rally. In response to the election commission’s ban on their political symbol cricket bat, PTI developed an offline app to keep the voters informed and integrated AI chatbot with Khan’s Facebook account to engage supporters and provide customised electoral information. Current study aims to present a case study of PTI’ social media strategies for the election campaign. A qualitative content analysis will be employed to examine the role and impact of memes on election campaign based on their themes and intended audience. A sample of memes will be collected from Facebook and Twitter using targeted keyword searches and hashtags related to internet censorship and elections.


Ahsan Chandio

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Digital Humanities Tilburg