In 2006, Erik Helwig created the Rickroll. Maybe. Over at MEL Magazine, Brian VanHooker's "An Oral History of Rickrolling" takes us back to a time when the worst of the weaponized Internet memes were those created by advertising agencies, not corrupt politicians and warmongers. And if you're curious what I mean by that, watch the rather shocking video above. From MEL:
Erik Helwig, founder of Rickrolling (maybe): This was small-town, rural Michigan and there was this radio program called the Postgame Show that covered local sports. People would call in and say stuff like, “My son Christopher played on the team tonight, and he did a real great job!” Stuff like that, so my friends and I started pranking it and the calls started getting weirder and weirder. We’d call in and talk about our favorite Nicolas Cage movies and other weird stuff like that. Then one day I called them and just played “Never Gonna Give You Up” on the air. I didn’t say anything, I just played the song. The host had absolutely no reaction to it, he didn’t say, “I’m being Rickrolled” or anything like that because it was before all that.
I don’t know if I want to call myself the “founder” of Rickrolling. That’s difficult for me because it was something that I did on a whim and later realized that I did this six months before anyone else, which I thought was cool, but that’s about it. I only picked that song because I really like the song — it’s a great 1980s song that’s fun to laugh at in the best way. There’s nothing more to it than that, but I don’t know if somebody else thought of that song as something to prank somebody else with. The Wikipedia page links it back to a 2005 episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and then there’s Duckrolling also, so I really don’t know if I’m the founder or not. All I know is that I called my radio station in 2006 and pranked them with the song....
(Don Caldwell, internet historian and editor-in chief of Know Your Meme): One of the first Rickrolls — and possibly the first one — was disguised as a preview for Grand Theft Auto 4 in May 2007. Because that was such a hugely anticipated game at the time, a lot of people fell victim to Rickrolling. This prank mostly remained on 4chan for about a year, then on February 10, 2008, members of the internet group Anonymous protested the church of Scientology for trying to censor videos about Scientology. During these rallies, “Never Gonna Give You Up” was played from boomboxes by Anonymous members.