Meme culture keeping Jeffrey Epstein story alive


Screenshot from pwndmemes on Instagram

You have most likely seen the “Epstein didn’t kill himself” posts and memes pop up on your social media feed, and just as it seems they might be dying out, another pops up. Even though most of the mainstream media has moved on past this, people are not letting it go.

Dr. David Gurney, Associate Professor of Media Arts explains to us how the impact of social media has helped to keep this story alive.

The Epstein story is flexible when it comes to memes, which has helped it go viral.  “It’s so easy to plug this in to so many things,” said Gurney, “for example, you’ll have a meme that’s already established, and instead of it having the final line, people just plug in Epstein didn’t kill himself.”

These memes and posts have helped to remind people of the situation, where as otherwise it would have most likely been forgotten about. “That kind of keeps a forward momentum with this on social media because people see it and even if they aren’t making the memes, it reminds them how can we just let this thing flow by?” said Gurney.

Screenshot from libertyordeath on Instagram

For those unaware of Jeffrey Epstein, he was a multi-millionaire who was charged with sex trafficking of a minor and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, both of which he pled not guilty. It is worth noting that back in 2008, Epstein pled guilty to a sex charge involving a minor and was already a registered sex offender.

Epstein was denied bail, and on Aug. 10, he died in his jail cell. The death was officially ruled a suicide, but many people are questioning this. According to the New York Times, Epstein’s brother hired a private pathologist who disputes the claim that Epstein took his own life.

However, social media is not a substitute for an actual news source just yet. The posts that often get shared or go viral are memes and other shorter posts, often without any real facts or information. Articles and more lengthy posts are not as shareable, and often get skipped over in our social media feeds.

“We want things in bite size, things that are easily digestible,” said Gurney. “If I see that one panel or even four panel nice square image kind of meme that has the punchline of Epstein didn’t kill himself, that’s something I can just click share. …that other more lengthy post, I share it, who’s going to take the time to read through all of it? Some people maybe, but not as many, so it’s not going to be as appealing for me to share it.”

The hype on social media surrounding this story has seemed to have caught the attention of the mainstream media, so perhaps they will begin to start covering this story more as time goes on.

Do you think Epstein killed himself? Come out to Coffee and a Paper this Thursday, Nov. 14, and take our poll!