“Be Like Bill,” the worst meme of 2016, already has its fair share of detractors—including police. But is it actually dangerous? Of course not. It’s just condescending, cloying, and profoundly irritating.
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Not content to allow this viral scourge to run its pathetic course, however, some websites and many TV news reporters—the same people who thought 4chan was a person, lest we forget—are warning that sharing Be Like Bill memes could expose us to hacks, data breaches, and more.
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Scary! Just imagine if, after you logged out of Facebook for the night, Bill came to life and accessed your Web browser’s cookies to harvest Social Security numbers, bank account PINs, and embarrassing photos of you in high school. Why doesn’t someone stop him?
Because that’s not actually happening. As New York Magazine reports:
[W]hen it comes to the Be Like Bill generator, on a site called Blobla.com—which our newsreader intentionally struggles to pronounce, emphasizing how absurd the site’s name is—the boilerplate local news stories don’t provide hard evidence that there’s any data mining going on. They point to some sketchy terms of service Blobla used to have, then tells us they’re no longer in effect. The terms now promise the site does not collect your Facebook data when you share. Hmm.
Sure, apps and quizzes might store whatever info you dump into them, but Be Like Bill seems to be pretty much harmless—unless you hate seeing and inadvertently sharing ads, in which case, yes, it is a “clickbait trap.” Then again, what isn’t these days? Besides this article, I mean.
None of which is to say that you should keep posting Be Like Bill content on your Facebook wall, of course. You may not lose your identity in the process, but you’ll definitely lose a few friends.
Miles Klee is a novelist and web culture reporter. The former editor of the Daily Dot’s Unclick section, Klee’s essays, satire, and fiction have appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly, Vanity Fair, 3:AM, Salon, the Awl, the New York Observer, the Millions, and the Village Voice. He's the author of two odd books of fiction, 'Ivyland' and 'True False.'