In fiction, the 2002 game Transhuman Space presented the world of 2100 as having "memetics" as a key technology, and the 2004 expansion "Transhuman Space: Toxic Memes" gave examples of "memetic warfare agents".
In Evolutionary Psychology, Memes and the Origin of War (2006), Keith Henson defined memes as "replicating information patterns: ways to do things, learned elements of culture, beliefs or ideas." Also in 2006, DARPA commissioned a four-year study of memetics by Dr. Robert Finkelstein, founder of Robotic Technology Incorporated.
Memetic warfare has been seriously studied as an important concept with respects to information warfare by NATO's Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence. Jeff Giesea, writing in NATO's Stratcom COE Defense Strategic Communications journal, defines memetic warfare as “competition over narrative, ideas, and social control in a social-media battlefield. One might think of it as a subset of ‘information operations’ tailored to social media. Information operations involve the collection and dissemination of information to establish a competitive advantage over an opponent”. According to Jacob Siegel, "Memes appear to function like the IEDs of information warfare. They are natural tools of an insurgency; great for blowing things up, but likely to sabotage the desired effects when handled by the larger actor in an asymmetric conflict."
United States presidential election, 2016
Memetic warfare on the part of 4chan and The_Donald sub-reddit is widely credited with assisting Donald Trump in winning the election in an event they call 'The Great Meme War'. According to Ben Schreckinger, "a group of anonymous keyboard commandos conquered the internet for Donald Trump—and plans to deliver Europe to the far right."
In a 2018 study, a team that analyzed a 160M image dataset discovered that the 4chan message board /pol/ and sub-reddit r/The_Donald were particularly effective at spreading memes. They found that /pol/ substantially influences the meme ecosystem by posting a large number of memes, while r/The_Donald is the most efficient community in pushing memes to both fringe and mainstream web communities.
- Cascio, Jamais (April 2004). Transhuman Space: Toxic Memes. Steve Jackson Games. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-55634-726-9. Archived from the original on June 16, 2016. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
The Unified Way is a cult of persistent popularity across Asia and into the Middle East. It is also a memetic warfare agent, a leftover from the buildup to the Pacific War that may well cause more damage than all of the dormant AKVs in orbit.
- "What is memetic warfare and how it threats democratic values? - European Endowment For Democracy: EED". www.democracyendowment.eu.
- "On the Origins of Memes by Means of Fringe Web Communities. Savvas Zannettou, Tristan Caulfield, Jeremy Blackburn, Emiliano De Cristofaro, Michael Sirivianos, Gianluca Stringhini, Guillermo Suarez-Tangil. ACM Internet Measurement Conference (IMC), 2018".