Know Your Memes


This began to become popular on the Internet around 2006 and 2007. This challenge originally emerged in 2001 in the Cinnamon Challenge 2001 hosted by Michael Buffington, where the contestant was Erik Goodlad. Then, a blog article appeared on Buffington’s blog of the results of the challenge, from there, the story was picked up by Jason Kottke on December 22, 2001.However, only in 2006 that a Youtube version of the Cinnamon Challenge was uploaded, with the title “Pipe Attempts the Cinnamon Challenge” ( Then, people started imitating and attempting the challenge and uploading their videos. This became so popular with the aid of the video sharing community, Youtube and other social media. As this challenge is extremely difficult due to the ability of the cinnamon to dry out the mouth or preventing the formation of saliva (Huget), people often end up coughing, choking, or spitting out in clouds of cinnamon. People might think that it is an easy challenge, where they confidently put the spoonful of cinnamon into their mouth, and then the irritation, burning, and itching effects come by. The various expressions of irritation and pain of the challengers became the moment that are seek by people for their own pleasure, where viewers laugh out of enjoyment seeing the challengers’ in pain such as the expression of the guys in the images below.

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Cinnamon Challenge is a challenge to swallow a tablespoon full of cinnamon in 60seconds without drinking any liquid or water. Besides, people who accidentally inhale or spit out the cinnamon are considered as failed. The challengers then upload videos of them attempting the cinnamon challenge on Youtube. It became so popular that it even has a Wikipedia page, facebook page, and many websites linking to the Cinnamon Challenge. We can see that this challenge emerged in 2001, but became famous on the Internet in 2007. As the world we are in today is influenced by social media, it experiences social media hype through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, and a viral phenomenon in Youtube. TV programs such as Mythbusters and Big Brother UK even documented the Cinnamon Challenge attempts (Fishman).

As we can see from the Google Insights’ Search result, we can see that interest peaks in 2007 and skyrocketed in 2012. The peak in 2007 is said to be corresponding with the most popular Cinnamon Challenge video uploaded in November 2007. There is also a resurgence in the late 2011where the video of Anna Diaz attempting the challenge was uploaded on Youtube where it received 3.9 million views in the first two months, where it is then imitated by other Youtubers (

Google Insights’ Search:

Google Insights for Cinnamon Challenge

The Cinnamon Challenge videos

This is said to be the most viewed video as it receives over 20milion views until today.

Other  challenges that are influenced by the Cinnamon Challenge are Pepper Spray Challenge and Saltine Cracker Challenge. There are also other memes that emerged with the influence of Cinnamon Challenge such as these listed below:

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Fishman, Julie. The 100 Greatest Internet Memes of All Times. Web. 2012.<>.
Sav and Randomman. Cinnamon Challenge.Web. <>.
Huget, Jennifer LaRue. Swallowing Cinnamon by the Spoonful. Web. April5, 2010.<>.

CHOCOLATE RAIN by Dominique Francine Martinez

“Chocolate Rain” is an original song written and performed by Tay Zonday. On April 22, 2007, Zonday uploaded a Youtube video of himself singing this song  with an exceptionally deep voice. The video was a straight forward performance with Zonday singing directly into a microphone while wearing a white t-shirt and standing in front of a white curtain. According to, each line of the song repeated the words “Chocolate Rain” followed by a statement or description such as “some stay dry and others feel the pain.” Zonday later revealed that he wrote these lyrics to comment on institutional racism.

According to Google Insights, the video’s search popularity peaked in August of 2007 – four months after its release – due to an article about it in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. The video was a viral success, reaching the top 50 most viewed videos of Youtube.

Much of this videos popularity could be attributed to the ways in which the video was parodied in other internet memes. These parodies would mimic memorable elements of the original video such as Zonday’s deep voice, the note which explained that he would move away from the microphone to breathe, and the repetitiveness of the lyric “chocolate rain.”

Since its debut in 2007, the video has reached over 83 Million views on Youtube (as of September 16, 2012). Youtube statistics indicate that most of the viewers are 13-17 year old males, and most views come from the United States.

According to Google Insights, the video is most popular in searches from Hong Kong. The video’s popularity peaked in August of 2007 and continued to be popular until around June of 2008 after Zonday appeared in a music video for the band Weezer. Its search popularity fluctuated for about a year.

Google Insights for Chocolate Rain

Other memes have emerged from this or have been influenced by this:

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NYAN CAT by Lee Leung

The YouTube video, “Nyan Cat”, went viral in April 2011. It “merged a Japanese pop song with an animated cartoon cat with the body of  a pop-tart, flying through space and leaving a rainbow trail behind it”, regarding the video description on Wikipedia. The original video was created by Christopher Torres from Texas and it was originally named “Pop Tart Cat”. It hit the top 5 videos on YouTube in 2011 and received over 84 million views in September that year, according to the YouTube database. The ridiculous and adorable animated cat accompanied with the only quirky sound in the video, “nyanyanyan……”, this hilarious combination instantly caught public’s attention and inspired myriad parodies and imitations. Nyan Cat soon influenced Websites and parodies after its emergence. The peak of the videos interest was in June, 2011, afterward, its popularity gradually decreased, It was most popular in Chile and mostly among Western countries, according to Google Insights.

Google Insights: Nyan Cat

Based on its popularity, commercial products, from the Nyan cat progress bar for Windows 7 to Nyan Cat MP3, to Nyan Cats games , to armature’s creations, like the video “Guitarist Eric Calderone shreds Nyan Cat theme,” became great market successes.

Nyan Cat Progress Bar

Nyan Cat Sushi Game

Internet memes related to Nyan Cat or mimicking its characteristic can be found on the Internet easily. Some diagrams display below:

Nyan Cat Auditions

Cat Memes

Nyan Cat Meets Mordor

Besides, fans created “Nyan Cats countries”, which are a series of videos about Nyan cats from different countries, such as Mexican Nyan Cat and American Nyan Cat.

Last but not least, through various tributes and mediums of Nyan Cat found on the Internet, its influence is solid and compelling. From non-Internet products, like the Nyan Cat’s dessert and Nyan Cat’s costume, to online creations, such as the, Nyan Cat 2: Electric Boogaloo meme and the epic, hypnotizing video, Nyan Cat 10 hours, serve as evidence of Nyan Cat’s ubiquitous power.

Nyan Cat Cake

Nyan Cat Cosplay

Nyan Cat 2: Electric Boogaloo

And a ten hour video of Nyan Cat:


Kanye West’s infamous ‘Imma Let You Finish’ meme came from an event that occurred during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. During Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for the Best Female Music Video award, Kanye West suddenly went on stage and grabbed the microphone from Swift’s hand. Kanye then yelled out “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish but Beyonce had one of the best music videos of all time.” As Taylor Swift was a popular country artist amongst the U.S. population, backlash against Kanye arose immediately afterwards.  The President of the United States was also overheard calling Kanye a ‘jackass’ for stealing the spotlight from Taylor Swift.

Kanye Interrupting

The meme was generated a day after Kanye’s outburst at the MTV Video Music Awards. His words were turned into a snowclone (phrasal templates in which certain words may be replaced with another to produce new variations).

It had the following format:“Yo A, I’m really happy for you. Imma let you finish, but B is the best C of all time. OF ALL TIME.”

Google Insights on I’mma Let You Finish Meme

The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards took place on September 13, 2009, and on the same day, celebrities such as Katy Perry, Dane Cook, and Ricky Martin took to Twitter to comment on West’s rude behavior. According to, Kanye West was a top trending topic on September 14-15, 2009 with 293,024 tweets about the rapper within an hour of the incident.

This meme has sparked other ones, such as:

Kanye vs Einstein

Kanye vs Dumbledore

Kanye vs Xzibit

PLANKING by Benjamin Le

Planking is the act of lying face down in an unusual location. The person who is planking attempts to act like a wooden plank by keeping their arms to the side of their bodies and by trying to keep their bodies as straight and level as possible. The “planker” will perform this act and have another person photograph the act in order to post it online. Examples of unusual planking locations include but are not limited to: roads, benches, coffee tables, monkey bars, etc. According to Facebook’s “official” page in planking, there are six rules regarding planking.

1. You must always lay face down, ensuring your face remains expressionless for the duration of the Plank.
2. Your legs must remain straight, and together with toes pointed.
3. Your arms must be placed by your side, held straight and fingers pointed.
4. You must make it known that you are Planking. Saying ‘I am Planking’ usually get this across. Sternly announcing it will ensure a good result.
5. Your safety should always be considered. Properly thought through Planking procedures should always go to plan. Never put your self at undue risk.
6. Every Plank that is captured must be named.

Some examples of planking are show below.

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History of Planking

Planking originated from the Lying Down Game, a popular fad within the UK and its territories in 2010, where the player would lie down in unusual places and photograph himself/herself. The term “planking” was not widely used to coin the act until Spring 2011, when planking hit worldwide.  The initial popularity explosion occurred in Australia, where the official Facebook page of planking added 130,000 new likes in less than a week. This popularity boost has been accredited to pro-rugby player David Williams who would plank during games in the Spring of 2011.  Planking grew quickly between Spring 2011 and  the end of that year,  with its popularity peaking during the Summer of 2011 according to Google Insights. After 2011, planking’s popularity waned as cousin memes such as “owling” and “batmanning” took its place.

Why was planking so popular? Perhaps it is because of the ease of participation in the planking meme. You didn’t have to know how to auto tune a video of film a parody. As the saying goes, if you have a body, you have a plank. All it takes is a friend, a camera, a body, and an Internet connection to participate in this worldwide sensation. Another possible reason in planking’s rise in popularity is because of its appeal to exhibitionism. All it takes is one good photo in a good location and one’s planking photo could become one of the most popular in the world. A nobody could easily gain 15 minutes of fame with just a camera. Planking also received a lot of media attention from celebrities throughout Hollywood. Endorsed by stars such as Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Chris Brown, planking easily spread throughout the youth.

Google Insights: Planking

Cousin Memes of Planking






In late fall of 2011, Occupy demonstrations occurred throughout the United States. Protestors camped on symbolic public grounds to decry the financial gap between the wealthy 1% and the less-wealthy 99% of the United States population. Universities were dominant areas for these protests, and such a demonstration took place on November 18th at the University of California, Davis campus. As a part of the protest, students linked arms, sat down, and refused to move despite police warnings.  Lieutenant John Pike and another officer of the UC Davis Police force then employed pepper spray onto the students from a close distance as they tightly tucked their heads down towards their chests. The photo captured quickly became a meme.

This meme spread rapidly in support of the Occupy protestors. From previous Occupy demonstrations, there were reports of unwarranted police brutality, such as that that occurred during the Occupy Cal demonstration, which happened a week before the Occupy Davis demonstration. Sentiments for students facing these situations and growing anger at university and police responses were high. Another factor of this meme’s popularity is the humor in how the officer seems to be leisurely strolling while causing students physical harm. His nonchalance manner had the public ready to ridicule and criticize his behavior.

The original photo, taken by Louise Macabitas, was posted to Reddit a day after the incident. By the next day, photoshopped versions of the photo were posted to Reddit, and within a month, multiple versions of the meme surfaced. By November 21st, some users of began writing parody reviews of the pepper spray canister brand that Lieutenant Pike used on the students. Meme versions of the photo were also uploaded as customer images of the product. The meme became as widespread as to the creation of a fake Twitter account, @PepperSprayCop, with satiric content. In three days the account gained more than 130 followers. A new meme that emerged from “Casually Pepper Spray Everything Copy” was the “X, Essentially” meme. On November 21st, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly spoke about the incident on The O’Reilly Factor. At one point in the talk, she states pepper spray as “a food product, essentially.” Mockery of her statement was made into spoof macro images, in which important social issues were dismissed by light euphemism.  By analyzing the Google Insight on “pepper spray cop” and related searches, it seems that the phase died down by April 2012.

Google Insights for Casually Pepper Spray Everything Cop

Spraying the Declaration of Independence

Seen in public art

Photoshopped Pepper Spraying

Fox News’ “X, Essentially” Meme

Fox News’ “X, Essentially” Meme


An 18-year-old boy who used the pseudonym CopperCab posted a YouTube video “Gingers Do Have Souls” on January 14, 2010, fervently expressing his anger towards red-headed discrimination. The expression “Gingers have no souls” originally came from an episode named “Ginger Kids” from the American animated sitcom South Park in 2005.

The reason why I believe the clip became extremely popular is because the manner the boy exhibited his frustration. CopperCab gained a large amount of negative comments from other Youtube users who argued that CopperCab seems to consider “gingers” as a distinct race. While neglecting the fact that other races or groups have been facing much more serious discrimination and prejudice for a long period of time, CopperCab made such a great deal about redheads being called soulless. Moreover, CopperCab claims that he has considered committing suicide because the tease and humiliation has gotten so heartbreaking yet he contradicts himself by saying that the negative comments and abusive remarks do not affect him or annoy him. He also yells “I’m a ginger and proud!” repetitively while ranting about how he could no long bear the intolerance in the video. The apparent contradictions and immature presentation of CopperCab did not win sympathy towards his situation but negative reaction and mockeries.

The 2005 South Park episode “Gingers kids” starts with a school presentation about “ginger kids” by one of the characters called Eric Cartman. “Gingers kids”, as described in the animation, are children with red hair, light skin and freckles. In the episode, Eric uses expressions such as “sick”, “nasty”, “yuck” and “gross” to describe this particular group of children. Eric also introduces a disease called “Gingervitis”, a disease that Ginger kids are born with and could not be cured because they have no souls. In Eric’s conclusion, he says that Ginger kids creep people out, make people sick to their stomachs and are cursed.

As a reaction to this episode, CopperCab, an 18-year-old boy makes the YouTube video called “Gingers Do Have Souls”, in which he claims that he has been teased at school due to the fact he is a Ginger and he is extremely irritated by this discrimination. The video is shoot by himself in an outdoor setting (possibly a back alley); the device is likely to be his cell phone or a digital camera held by himself. He starts the video by saying that it really annoys him that South Park would say Gingers do not have souls because he does have a soul. Suddenly, he starts yelling that “Gingers have souls! I am a Christian!” while pointing finger at the camera. He then starts swearing in cursive words and demands for a reason why people would discriminate against redheads. Moreover, he says that every other group gets respect, such as Mexicans, black people and white people and he is tired of being called in such a demeaning term. However, he then contradicts himself by saying he identifies himself as a Ginger and he is very proud of this fact.

The video “Gingers Do Have Souls” now has more than 3.6 million views on YouTube. According to “Google Insights” interest, the video has the greatest influence in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. It was most popular when it came out in early 2010 and its popularity eventually diminishes as time goes. The video “Gingers Do Have Souls” quickly acquired over 3.1 million views on YouTube and triggered more than 600 response videos within one month. Furthermore, the clip had over 210,000 comments and stirred controversies regarding the issue presented. Because of its popularity, there are custom T-Shirts and other merchandise inspired by “Gingers Do Have Souls”.

Google Insights on Gingers Do Have Souls

The video quickly elicited many comments and prompted hundreds of response videos. I did not find other memes that may have emerged from this but there are many parodies of the video and response videos made both by other people and CopperCab. As a reaction to all the negative feedback, CopperCab made another video called “Attention Haters” in which he expressed his anger towards people who judged him and his video negatively. In “Attention Haters”, CopperCab claims that he has got same right as everyone else so he could make videos whenever he wants and whatever he wants to. Claiming that he has the right to express himself in any way he wishes to, CopperCab says he is not going to coward down and he does not care what other people say. He says that South Park has created a new type of stereotype and he strongly believes since it is not acceptable to make fun of Blacks, Mexicans and Chinese so it is not acceptable to discriminate against Gingers as well. Both the original video “Gingers Have Souls” and “Attention Haters” have been made into remix rap versions.

Another interesting response video is uploaded on Youtube by the parents of CopperCab named “Apology for our ‘ginger’ son, Michael (CopperCab)”. These two adults started the video by “issuing a formal apology” for their son CopperCab and they claimed that he was raised better. His mother says she does understand his anger because being a Ginger is very difficult. However they started yelling, swearing and breaking into a rage of ginger pride. Furthermore, a ginger-haired Eric mocked CopperCab’s “Gingers Do Have Souls” as a promotional video for South Park’s 14th season.

Gingers Have Souls

Gingers Have Souls

Gingers Have Souls 2

Gingers DO Have Souls

Cartman and Gingers


This meme came from a mistranslated (Japanese to English) subtitle in a game that was released in 1989. Drawing from “Engrish” elements, its popularity started in forums in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Steve Caires had introduced the concept of “Engrish” in 1996 through his blog, filling it with pictures of mistranslated commercial signs, products, etc. His blog got popular enough and the masses began to enjoy these ridiculous translations. This popular humor set a precedent for accepting “All Your Base” as an internet phenomenon and meme.

Example of mistranslation []

The poorly translated lines of this game were introduced later to a video games website (Rage Games) in gif form, which depicted its graphics and poor translations. It really became popular once it reached multiple forums like Something Awful and TribalWar in late 2000, where users with Photoshop skills helped create more than 2000 variations of the meme, effectively democratizing the meme. Thus it drew its popularity from the Photoshop trend at the time and helped propel photoshopped images into a traditional medium of internet memes. I believe the effectiveness of this phenomenon resided in the fact that its variations were based in real-life landmarks or objects.

“All Your Base Are Belong To Us” is a line taken from the introduction of a game called Zero Wing, which was translated badly from Japanese to English. While the other lines in the introduction were also badly translated, this one was particularly laughable because it is threateningly spoken by the villain of the game, CATS; because of its Engrish, it could not be taken seriously by the players and viewers. Following the release of the music video created by Bac_CRC of TribalWar (shown further up), it was picked up by multiple news sources like, The Guardian, and USA Today.

Here is Chicago Fox News Channel’s take on it:

Google Insights only tracks its popularity in the world from 2004 to the present as opposed to 2000 to the present. We see that the United States has the most regional interest, which makes sense because the US was where most of the news publicity occurred (described further down).

Google Insights (Worldwide) on All Your Base Are Belong To Us

Here are the statistics for the United States since 2004. We can see that the trend remains similar between worldwide and United States’ statistics. For some reason, Utah has the most regional interest. I have no idea why this is.

Google Insights (US) for All Your Base Are Belong To Us

In both cases, we see that its popularity was still high between the years 2003 and 2004. In 2003, a group of young men posted signs of “All Your Base Are Belong To Us” all over a small town in Michigan. The residents were upset and misinterpreted the signs as terrorist threats and found them offensive to those serving in the military. This gross misunderstanding in the public might have sparked an interest. Then in 2004, North Carolina State University students hijacked a station’s newscast to display “All Your Base Are Belong To Us,” among other 1337 texts, instead of the programmed weather news. Again, this probably sparked the public’s interest and pushed them towards the internet.

This meme has also sparked a remix of “Snakes on a Plane,” which is another popular internet meme. This popular mashup video combined both memes.

Another line from the video game that became popular was “For Great Justice,” which became its catchphrase and functioned as its own meme. It was also used as skills/spells in MMOS like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars.

As on

It has also been reproduced in other meme forms, such as:

Gameshow Exploitables: All Your Base Style [uploaded by MDFIfication on]

Philosoraptor – All Your Base Style [uploaded by MDFification on]

Now, the meme is not as popular (as shown in above Google Insights image), as the proliferation of more current memes rely on the use of macroimage and meme generators rather than manually photoshopping “All Your Base.” However, it still lives on as a classic.



Iyanna Washington (YouTube user “iyannaw08”), a college student from Oakland, uploaded a video titled “AC TRANSIT BUS FIGHT I AM A MOTH****CKER” on February 16, 2010, featured an altercation between a 50-year-old black man and a 67-year-old white man.

In the video, the white man was wearing a light blue T-shirt that reads as “I AM a Moth****cker” on the back, sitting across from the black man. Their conversation was unclear at the beginning of the video, but quickly become heated and the black man asked the white man angrily, “Why a brother gotta spit-shine your shoes?” Obviously their argument is related to racism.

The altercation was finally resulted in a violent physical confrontation. The white man repeatedly punched the black man in the face, and black man was failed to fight back. The black man said “bring ambulance” after he broke his nose in the fight. However, his speech had been misheard as “bring M&M’s” or “bring Amber Lamps” due to his facial injury.

The video amassed over 1 million views within the first 24 hours. As of September 18, 2012, the video has received over 5.9 million views, more than 9,8000 comments on YouTube. The top three audiences’ locations are United States, Canada and United Kingdom, mostly male aged 25-54.  This video became a viral video and gained lots amount of conversation in a short time mainly because their argument involved racism.

Google Insights for Epic Beard Man

The older white man in the video was identified as Thomas Bruso later, but he was dubbed as Epic Beard Man by Anonymous after the spread of the video.

Memes emerged from Epic Beard Man:

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Some people created videos to share their views of the video:

Amber Lamps later referred to as an unknown fashion-dressed young woman who briefly appeared in the background of the video, showing low attention to the argument that only few feet away from her seat.

Google Insights for search (hit over time):

Google Insights on Amber Lamps

On the same day as the video uploaded, Amber Lamps fans pages was launched and created a definition entry for the nickname on Urban Dictionary.

Facebook page for Amber Lamps on Amber Lamps

Some 4chan users also began posting close-up screenshots of that unknown woman. Different media has been created related to Amber Lamps, such as videos and memes.

Close-up of Amber Lamps

Amber Lamps Meme

Amber Lamps Meme 2

Amber Lamps Meme 3


Chuck Norris

What is Chuck Norris Facts?

Chuck Norris Facts are factoids that embracing how Chuck Norris acts in charisma way. Chuck Norris facts were made into memes with exaggerate expression, for example, there is one saying ‘some magicians can walks on water, Chuck Norris can swims through land.’ Chuck Norris is portrait as Mr. Incredible on the Internet. The factoids describe him as the legendary person who was born with super-natural ability and he is able to conquer             anything in the universe.

Chuck Norris Knows

Chuck Norris Was Here

Coming of Chuck Norris Facts

Chuck Norris Fact receives attention since 2004, after Conan O’Brien, a famous talk show host; who tells jokes out of the television series ‘Walker Texas Ranger’ starred by Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris start to build popularity among the virtual world. Chuck Norris Facts are not widely spread throughout the Internet until 2006, everything was triggered by a movie named ‘Pacifier’ come out on 2005, starred by Vin Diesel. This movie talks about             the Navy-SEAL, played by Vin Diesel, turned babysitter as an undercover agent. People found this idea to be absurd and started to make up joke about it. Mr. Ian Spector as one of the Internet users had decided to start an online forum to discuss this topic and named it ‘Post your Van Diesel Fact’. This forum had reached a very large population during the late 2005. But soon after, people started to lost interest in it and the number decline. In order to keep the audience and its popularity, Mr. Ian Spector started a poll asking the public who should be the next ‘fact-generator’. Although Chuck Norris was not even on the list of choices, he won the poll and became a popular figure for meme among the Internet user.

Meme emerge from Chuck Norris Facts

Chuck Norris Facts has influence lots of audience to create their own memes emerges from the original one. Just like the meme for an Indian actor Rajinikanth also a fictional character Doctor Who, they are also portrait as the influential figures who represent toughness and intelligent.

Popularity of Chuck Norris Facts

Chuck Norris Facts meme gained lots of popularity during the 2006, as follow-on to replace the ‘Vin Diesel Facts’ hot trend by that time. Although the popularity of Chuck Norris Facts had gone down rapidly half year later, the fluctuation which show in Google   interest insight graph implies that once in a while, this meme were being brought up by the user again. It is very different from the graph that displays the popularity of Vin Diesel facts, very flat from mid 2005 until now. I believe the reason for this meme to reach its popularity, since, the 2004 is because Chuck Norris had established the ‘hero-like’ image in general public by the time he act in the television series ‘ Walker Texas Ranger’.  More importantly, Conan O’Brien invited him to the talk show at the right timing and more people get to know more about him. He was able to use the social media to advertise about himself.

Google Insights on Chuck Norris

Google Insights on Van Diesel


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