Internet memes are often portrayed as the last bastion of truly spontaneous culture—almost magic things that spawn haphazardly from the digital mire. This may have been somewhat true with early internet memes. (After all, what corporation would want to co-opt Goatse?) But today memes are as corporate as any other form of popular culture.
The most recent smash meme was the viral dance craze The Harlem Shake. Today, Kevin Ashston of Quartz shows how the entire thing was "led and orchestrated" by corporations. Although it was technically started by an obscure video blogger named "Filthy Frank," the Harlem Shake meme didn't truly take off until Mad Decent, the record label of "Harlem Shake" producer Baauer started promoting it just a couple days after Filthy Frank posted the first video. They were joined by early corporate participants in the meme like Maker Studios, "a Los Angeles company that specializes in making money from YouTube ," Collegehumor, and BuzzFeed. So not only was the "Harlem Shake" an inescapable, obnoxious blight on the internet: Corporations made it happen and were getting rich off it.
Destroy the internet.