Heres How the Mysterious Twitter Carp Meme Came to Be

Illustration for article titled Heres How the Mysterious Twitter Carp Meme Came to Be

Photo: Petr David Josek (AP)

For a brief moment on Friday night, spectacularly bored and homebound Twitter users marveled in delight at a strange phenomenon on the social network: Everyone was tweeting the word “carp.” Questions abounded. What? Why? Huh? I’m missing something, right?

Now, hundreds of thousands of tweets and at least one dumb joke blog later, we have the answer to the “carp” mystery: It’s a joke ad made by a college kid who was just having some fun.

The whole thing began around 8:30 pm ET on Friday evening when user @dm4uz3 tweeted the word “carp” along with a photo of a dumbfounded-looking carp held in a fisherman’s hands. @dm4uz3 promoted the tweet, which effectively turned it into an ad, causing the tweet to show up with a button that says “Tweet #carp.” (The ad doesn’t show up unless you view it on Twitter.com or within the Twitter app.)

The “Tweet #carp” prompt was simply too deliciously weird to resist. @dm4uz3 said in a Twitter DM on Saturday that they paid 5 euros to promote the tweet, but that doing so “basically did nothing.” In a screenshot of the original tweet’s analytics shared with Gizmodo, fewer than 4,200 impressions out of the more than 375,000 impressions the tweet received came as a result of that 5 euro promotion. The rest were all organic.

According to screenshots posted by @dm4uz3, the ad, which simply linked to the Wikipedia page for carp, was targeted to users who enjoy a wide range of topics, from politics to reptiles, to Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. If you take a peek at the dashboard in the tweet below, you can also see the audience that was originally targeted with the Carp Content were folks following the likes of Ian Miles Cheong and Paul Joseph Watson.

The result was a whole lot of “carp” tweets from users who wanted in on the joke and a lot more confused people wonder what the hell was going on. The answer, of course, was nothing—absolutely nothing was happening besides a lot of people tweeting “carp” and the inevitable meme-ification that followed.

According to @dm4uz3, who (wisely) would only say that they’re an 18-year-old Portuguese college kid who “speaks English online,” the whole thing started a “couple of weeks” back when their friends were sharing a similar joke Twitter ad (which, if you click on it, shows a short video of a hairless cat along with the prompt “Tweet #BINGUS”):

@dm4uz3 said they reached out “to the OP” to find out how they made the ad, which sent them to this page explaining how it all works. @dm4uz3’s first attempt at the joke ad was posted earlier on Friday, but it didn’t quite take off. Then came the “carp” tweet, which blew up so far and wide that it “was just insane,” @dm4uz3 said.

Indeed. @dm4uz3’s ad now has brands copying it and marketing people likely scrambling to figure out how to repeat its success. @dm4uz3 said they’re studying filmmaking and while they’re not currently considering a career in advertising, “I’m genuinely adding this to my resume.”

Asked why the “carp” tweet blew up the way it did, @dm4uz3 is admittedly as baffled as the rest of us. “I have no idea why honestly,” they said. “I guess everyone likes the fish.”

Update 10:25 pm ET, Dec. 19: @dm4uz3 dug up the “bingus” tweet that, they said, first inspired their Twitter ad joke and shared it with us. We’ve updated the piece to include that tweet instead of the first one they shared.