Ryan Milner, meanwhile, has a PhD in the study of memes (really), and says that transplanting beautiful memes from gross sites (Nazi subreddits, 4chan, weird Discords) to slightly less gross ones (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr), is a time-honored tradition and can likely be ethically done if performed carefully and meticulously."As long as you're not taking explicitly problematic content and as long as you're not explicitly amplifying the troublesome sites, then you're doing that decontextualizing work that comes with memes, and kind of sanitizing them by the mere fact that you're lifting them out of the shit," Milner told me in an email.
"You can sanitize and popularize the images by releasing them among the normies"
There are other questions. Is it ethical to steal jokes from anywhere without attribution? Parody of problematic topics: GOOD or BAD? Can jokes ever be decontextualized from their potential political impact?I love talking to professors about memes, but sometimes the discussion is removed from the people who share and trade memes every day. And so I wondered if the editorial board at Meme Insider—a Reddit magazine that publishes some of the most thoughtful writing about the memes—had ever pondered the subject of ethical meme sourcing. Thankfully, the board is on the same page as my academic sources."If a meme is sourced from extreme groups, then one must be very sensitive about where, when, and with whom they share the meme," the board said. "Are there any double meanings that they may not have caught? If this is the case, then the meme should be left behind, and more wholesome ones pursued.""It is the position of Meme Insider that readers should be aware of the sources of their memes," the board continued. "However, dismissing a joke that can bring levity to someone's day, encourage a friend, or brighten a dull moment only because of its original source unnecessarily shuts out the radiant force for dankness that is memes."I'm going to keep going to Nazi Discord channels, because I report on those parts of the internet. If I find funny memes that I believe to be not Nazi in nature, I will probably share them. But while exploring this question I began to look inward. The only way you can ensure that a meme is 100 percent free range ethically sourced is to make it yourself.
"It is the position of Meme Insider that readers should be aware of the sources of their memes"