Memes like this often use a process called “trading up the chain,” pioneered by media entrepreneur Ryan Holiday, who describes the method in his book Trust Me, I’m Lying. Campaigns begin with posts in blogs or other news outlets with low standards. If all goes well, somebody notable will inadvertently spread the disinformation by tweet, which then leads to coverage in bigger and more reputable outlets. #DraftMyWife was outed fairly early on as a hoax and got debunked in the Washington Post, the Guardian, and elsewhere. The problem is, taking the trouble to correct disinformation campaigns like these can satisfy the goal of spreading the meme as far as possible—a process called amplification.
Joan Donovan unpacks the history associated with memes. She touches on their place within culture, the authorless nature of them and the potential to disrupt politics. Elsewhere, Dale Beran discusses memes in regards to 4Chan, while danah boyd talks about the challenges inadvertently learning the wrong thing through viral content. Doug Belshaw also discusses memes in his book The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies and his TED Talk.