It appears as though the far-right trolls weren’t the ones really pulling the strings.
Throughout elections in the U.S., France, and most recently Germany, there has been a question about the efficacy of the far-right's "meme magic" or "meme warfare."
In the case of Germany's federal election this week, it appears as though far-right trolls weren't the ones really pulling the strings.
What appears to have happened is Russian bots pushed far-right conspiracy theories on Twitter using bots and sock-puppet accounts. They waited for one of their honey pots to catch the eye of a far-right influencer and then used a bot net to amplify it. Then private communities on platforms like 4chan and Discord picked it up and helped push the theory to go viral on Twitter and Facebook.
In the weeks leading up to the 2017 federal election in Germany, far-right 4chan users regularly posted what they call "Kraut/pol/" updates.
They're long, largely copy-and-pasted posts full of information for far-right German users who were eager to help campaign for Alternative For Germany (AfD), the country's far-right party. On Sunday, the AfD came in third place.
Along with practical information like how to canvas for the AfD, 4chan users also crowdsourced a massive database of memes.
The memes were hosted on a large public Postimage folder. The idea was to blast German social media with pro-AfD memes in attempt to create a false sense of consensus and intimidate people who tried to speak out against the party.