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In 2008, YouTube trolled all of us when it changed every video on its homepage into a Rickroll. Ten years later, Rickrolling is a productive display of citizen activism as users are being redirected to Vote.org, where they can register to vote.
This time around, have been “Rickrolling for a purpose” in recent days. Using the allure of celebrity, folks are posting clickbait headlines like “Wow I can’t believe this is why Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson split up,” and embedding registration links instead.
— Tim (@cigelske) October 14, 2018
“Like any good Twitter meme, I stole it,” he wrote. He posted a link to the post that got him the first time, a fake news tweet about Kanye West and Kim Kardashian having a divorce.
Welp…it’s official…Kim Kardashian finally decided to divorce Kanye West… https://t.co/C2p25mxWJO
— Ashlee Marie Preston (@AshleeMPreston) October 12, 2018
Charmed by the unique approach to voter engagement, he seized the opportunity for productive trolling when he saw the Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson story taking over Twitter. He carefully crafted his tweet to pop up when people searched their breakup, and it quickly gained momentum. Within hours it was all over Twitter, with people like Ashton Kutcher and Bill Simmons jumping on board, and retweeting it.
— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) October 16, 2018
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) October 16, 2018
They aren’t the only ones. Hundreds of people followed Cigelske’s example, tweeting links with enticing headlines to draw people in.
NBC is actualy bringing seinfeld backhttps://t.co/1afm0s6UpU
— Seinfeld Current Day (@Seinfeld2000) October 17, 2018
— juan vidal (@itsjuanlove) October 15, 2018
— Shane Powers (@Theshanepowers) October 16, 2018
According to his Medium post, Cigelske’s link now has over 2 million clicks. He claims that if only 1 percent of the people clicking on the story actually registered, that is still 20,500 new voters.
If this act of humanitarian Rickrolling gets more people registered and ready to head to the polls, we should all be grateful for the meme.
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Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.