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This is a list of phenomena specific to the Internet, such as popular themes and catchphrases, images, viral videos and more. Such fads and sensations grow rapidly on the Internet because its instant communication facilitates word of mouth. In the early days of the Internet, phenomena were primarily spread via email or Usenet discussion communities. Today, many of these phenomena are also spread via popular, user-based or social networking Web sites, including (but not limited to) 4chan, Digg, Facebook, Fark, Flickr, Myspace, Slashdot, Something Awful, or YouTube. Search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing may also amplify the propagation of these phenomena.


  • FreeCreditReport.com — series of TV commercials that were posted on the Internet; many spoofs of the commercials were made and posted on YouTube.
  • Lowermybills.comBanner ads from this mortgage company feature endless loops of cowboys, women, aliens, and office workers dancing.
  • Embrace Life — a public service announcement for seatbelt advocacy made for a local area of the UK which achieved a million hits on its first two weeks on YouTube in 2010.
  • Shake Weight - Infomercial clips of the modified dumbbell have gone viral as a result of the product's comically sexual suggestive nature.
  • The Man Your Man Could Smell Like — A television commercial starring Isaiah Mustafa reciting a quick, deadpan monologue while shirtless about how "anything is possible" if men use Old Spice. It eventually led to a popular viral marketing campaign which had Mustafa responding to various Internet comments via short YouTube videos on Old Spice's YouTube channel.



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  • Bill Gates E-mail Beta Test – An e-mail chain-letter that first appeared in 1997 and was still circulating as recently as 2007. The message claims that America Online and Microsoft are conducting a beta test and for each person you forward the e-mail to, you will receive a payment from Bill Gates of more than $200. Realistic contact information for a lawyer appears in the message.
  • Mouse Ball Replacement Memo – A memorandum circulated to IBM field service technicians detailing the proper procedures for replacing mouse balls, yet filled with a number of sexual innuendos. The memo actually was written by someone at IBM and distributed to technicians, but it was distributed as a corporate in-joke, and not as an actual policy or procedure. On the Internet, the memo can be traced as far back as 1989.
  • Neiman Marcus Cookie recipe – An e-mail chain-letter dating back to the early 1990s, but originating as Xeroxlore, in which a person tells a story about being ripped off for over $200 for a cookie recipe from Neiman Marcus. The e-mail claims the person is attempting to exact revenge by passing the recipe out for free.
  • Goodtimes virus – An infamous, fraudulent virus warning that first appeared in 1994. The e-mail claimed that an e-mail virus with the subject line "Good Times" was spreading, which would "send your CPU into an nth-complexity infinite binary loop", among other dire predictions.


  • 300 – The film 300 originated a series of image macros featuring variations of the "This is Sparta" phrase associated with images of disparate situations, often superimposing the film's main character's face onto people in the image.
  • The Blair Witch Project – The first film to use the Internet for astroturfing. Its makers spread rumors that the material they shot was authentic and that the three protagonists really disappeared in Burkittsville.
  • Brokeback Mountain — inspired many online parody trailers.
  • CloverfieldParamount Pictures used a viral marketing campaign to promote this monster movie.
  • Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus – The theatrical trailer released in mid-May 2009 became a viral hit, scoring over one million hits on MTV.com and another 300,000 hits on YouTube upon launch, prompting brisk pre-orders of the DVD.
  • Party Girl – First feature film shown in its entirety on the Internet (June 3, 1995).
  • Snakes on a Plane – Attracted attention a year before its planned release, and before any promotional material was released, due to the film's working title and seemingly absurd premise. Producers of the film responded to the Internet buzz by adding several scenes and dialogue imagined by the fans.
  • Downfall - the film originated a series of videos replacing the subtitles which have Adolf Hitler (played by Bruno Ganz) ranting over various topics.


  • "All your base are belong to us" – Badly translated English from the opening cut scene of the European Sega Genesis/Mega Drive version of the 1989 arcade game Zero Wing, which has become a catchphrase, inspiring videos and other derivative works.
  • Giant Enemy Crab – The embarrassing Sony conference from E3 2006 in their promotion of the PlayStation 3, particularly focusing on Kaz Hirai's presentation and the demonstration of Genji 2; the presentation coined such phrases as "Giant Enemy Crab", "599 US Dollars" and "Riiiiiidge Racerrrr!"
  • Leeroy Jenkins – A World Of Warcraft player charges into a high-level dungeon with a distinctive cry of "Leeeeeeeerooooy... Jeeenkins!", ruining the meticulous attack plans of his group and getting them all killed.
  • Line Rider – A Flash game where the player draws lines that act as ramps and hills for a small rider on a sled.
  • I Love Bees – An alternate reality game that was spread virally after a 1 second mention inside a Halo 2 advertisement. Purported to be a website about Honey Bees that was infected and damaged by a strange Artificial Intelligence, done in a disjointed, chaotic style resembling a crashing computer. At its height, over 500,000 people were checking the website every time it updated.
  • Vanishing Point - In what is claimed to be the largest internet puzzle game, Microsoft created an online game in 2006 to promote the launch of Windows Vista, with a grand prize of a trip to space. Originally advertised with cryptic messages, the game received much attention in online forums where people would work together to solve the challenges.


  • Ate my balls – An early example of an Internet meme. Created to depict a particular celebrity or fictional character eating testicles.
  • Allison Stokke - A high school track athlete who in 2007 had a year-old picture of her adjusting her hair at a track meet in New York had made its way across the Internet. She had more than 1,000 new messages on her MySpace page. A three-minute video of Stokke standing against a wall and analyzing her performance at another meet had been posted on YouTube and viewed 150,000 times.
  • Baidu 10 Mythical Creatures – A popular meme in the People's Republic of China regarding a series of mythical creatures, with names which referred to various Chinese profanities. Seen as a form of protest against increased Internet censorship in China introduced in early 2009.
  • Bert is Evil – A satirical website stated that Bert of Sesame Street is the root of many evils. A juxtaposition of Bert and Osama Bin Laden subsequently appeared in a real poster in a Bangladesh protest.
  • Crasher Squirrel – A photograph by Melissa Brandts of a squirrel which popped up into a timer-delayed shot of Brandts and her husband while vacationing in Banff National Park, Canada, just as the camera went off. The image of the squirrel has since been added into numerous images on the Internet.
  • Heineken Looter Guy – An Associated Press photo taken in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, under the caption, "A looter carries a bucket of beer out of a grocery store in New Orleans." – the original photo shows a black man in waist-deep waters carrying a tub full of bottles of beer. This image and the man's face were incorporated into a parody of a Heineken magazine advertisement.
  • Islamic Rage Boy – A series of photos of Shakeel Bhat, a Muslim activist whose face became a personification of angry Islamism in the western media. The first photo dates back to his appearance in 2007 at a rally in Srinigar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir. Several other photos in other media outlets followed, and by November 2007, there were over one million hits for "Islamic Rage Boy" on Google and his face appeared on boxer shorts and bumper stickers.
  • Little Fatty – Starting in 2003, the face of a student from Shanghai was superimposed onto various other images.
  • LOLcat – A collection of funny image macros featuring cats with misspelled phrases, such as, "I Can Has Cheezburger?". The earliest versions of LOLcats appeared on 4chan, usually on Saturdays, which were designed, "caturday", as a day to post photos of cats.
  • Oolong – Photos featured on a popular Japanese website of a rabbit that is famous for its ability to balance a variety of objects on its head.
  • The Saugeen Stripper – A female student at the University of Western Ontario performed a striptease at a birthday party and dozens of digital images of the party ended up on the Internet.
  • Tron Guy – A husky, 48-year-old computer consultant, Jay Maynard, designed a Tron costume, complete with skin-tight spandex and light-up plastic armor, in 2003 for Penguicon 1.0 in Detroit, Michigan. The internet phenomenon began when an article was posted to Slashdot, followed by Fark, including images of this costume.



  • Freecycling – The exchange of unwanted goods via the internet.
  • One red paperclip – The story of a Canadian blogger who bartered his way from a red paperclip to a house in a year's time.
  • Secret London – a Facebook Group for trading information about the city’s secrets which attracted 150,000 members within 2 weeks and was crowdsourced into a website.
  • Three Wolf Moon — A t-shirt with many ironic reviews on Amazon.


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