Reddit’s ‘Memonavirus’ event shows how quickly infection spreads

Thousands are already 'infected.'

Mar 31, 2020, 7:30 pm*

Internet Culture

Siobhan Ball 

Siobhan Ball

infected reddit snoo

Jason Reed/The Daily Dot

Though it might seem a bit insensitive to run an event mimicking the pandemic currently tearing through the world offline, a “Memonovirus” event being held by Reddit‘s r/memes forum this week is actually a demonstration of viral spread.

Intended to show just how easily the coronavirus goes around, the “community” event spread a viral piece of “infected” flair across redditors—and thousands are already affected.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Reddit users began by asking for volunteers for “patient zero” users, and hundreds of people came forward eager to spread the “plague” throughout Reddit.

Some of the applications were, frankly, horrifying. “Cough in me Daddy” were words no-one needed to see written out and yet here we are, the world a darker place.

Once patient zero was chosen they were given the “infected” flair and turned loose to infect the community. Replying to one of their comments would always result in infection, meanwhile commenting on the same post as them came with a 1% chance of picking it up. Though this doesn’t perfectly mimic real-world transmission it does demonstrate how quickly a lack of social (media?) distancing can allow things to spread.

Just so there was a hint of actual consequences for infection, 3% of those contracting the Memonovirus received a temporary ban from the sub.

To participate, subreddit members had to have left at least five comments opening them up to infection during the event.

Meanwhile, a helpful website has been constructed to monitor the spread of the infection and, with just over 12 hours to go until the end of the event, over 61,000 members of the subreddit have been infected.

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*First Published: Mar 31, 2020, 11:43 am