How a flailing purple bird became a cautionary tale for the pitfalls of viral fame

Syd Weiler

In February 2017, a GIF of a flailing purple dove from a Facebook sticker set called “Trash Doves” was seemingly everywhere, popping up in never-ending chains of comment threads. But after achieving viral fame, the sticker set led to a litany of issues as it journeyed across the web: its creator, Syd Weiler, was doxxed; she dealt with repeated instances of plagiarism and copyright infringement; and at one point, 4chan users coordinated a harassment campaign to pretend the dove was a hate symbol, leading to its removal from Apple’s App Store.

These events, documented by Weiler in a blog post last week, are a harrowing reminder of the pitfalls of extreme virality, especially for independent artists. “The improbable explosion of my work…

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