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|“||The whole internet loves Milkshake Duck, a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes! *5 seconds later* We regret to inform you the duck is racist||”|
The meme was started by Twitter user Ben Ward, an Australian cartoonist using the online handle "pixelatedboat" on June 12, 2016. The Twitter joke describes a fictional Internet viral phenomenon of a duck that drinks milkshakes, subsequently discovered to be racist. Ward described the Twitter message as "a pretty good joke summing up a recent trend" where popularity that comes via the Internet can be quickly washed away by discovering something troubling in a person's past. When asked in 2017, Ward was unsure what actually inspired him to make the joke, but recalls it was partially influenced by the Chewbacca Mask Lady viral phenomenon.
The term had some use prior to June 2017, in particularly with Ken Bone during the 2016 United States Presidential debate, who was discovered to have a questionable Reddit history after his appearances. The term gained greater use in June 2017, as noted by the Oxford Dictionaries. The demonstration of the independently-developed video game The Last Night was a highlight of Microsoft's press conference during the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2017 due to its stylish cyberpunk visuals. However, one of its creators, Tim Soret, had been found to have previously spoken in support of the Gamergate controversy in 2014, which led several to criticize his views a day later and tarnished the game's image. Though Soret apologized the next day and stated his views on Gamergate had since changed, the "milkshake duck" term was quickly applied to the game. Criticism over the game and the subsequent controversy over social media led to wider adoption of the term.
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- "Pixelated Boat on Twitter". Twitter. 2017-06-07. Retrieved 2017-06-28.
- "What's a Milkshake Duck, and why is everyone talking about it?". The Daily Dot. 2017-06-13. Retrieved 2017-06-27.
- Bromwich, Jonah Engel (2017-06-27). "How a Joke Becomes a Meme: The Birth of ‘Milkshake Duck’". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-06-27.
- "Getting 'Milkshake Ducked': An Internet-Specific Tragedy of Our Time". Esquire. 2017-06-24. Retrieved 2017-06-27.
- Zancy, Rob (2017-06-27). "GamerGate, Feminism, Cyberpunk: An Interview With 'The Last Night' Designer". Vice. Retrieved 2017-06-27.