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Who is Slenderman and what is Creepypasta?

Jaclyn is an Idaho native who currently lives in Milwaukee. Having worked in radio, TV and as a newspaper reporter, she is an avid pop culture and news junkie. She also has a passion for photography and cooking (but is still learning to ...

Did an internet meme encourage murder?

Two Wisconsin preteens allegedly attempted to murder their friend in a tribute to Creepypasta character Slenderman. But what is the meme and where did it come from?
Video credit: CNN

Two 12-year-old girls are behind bars after allegedly attempting to kill their friend by stabbing her 19 times. The crime was reportedly done as a tribute to a Creepypasta figure called Slenderman.

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So what is Creepypasta, and where did Slenderman come from?

Copypasta is the term used for the copy-and-paste function people use to disseminate information. In the 1990s, it was used for chain emails, the kind that urged you to forward the email on. If you didn't, the email said something bad would happen to you — or, if you did forward it on, something good would happen. According to Time, the subset of chain emails that would tell scary stories and urban legends came to be called Creepypasta. This could include things like murder, suicide, ghosts, aliens and zombies.

It was the viral movement of the decade, but as social media became more popular, the emails have all but died off. However, the stories continued online in Creepypasta forums and websites, including the Creepypasta Wiki. Writers can discuss the current stories and even contribute their own.

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One of the most popular Creepypasta characters is Slenderman, and the reason the two girls allegedly stabbed their friend — in an attempt to pay tribute to the character. Slenderman was given many different forms over the years by contributors.

The girls reportedly told police "many people do not believe Slenderman is real," and the alleged murder plot was a way to prove he was. They believed that in order to show your devotion to Slenderman, you had to kill someone.

An admin for the Creepypasta Wiki posted a statement on the attempted murder.

"This is an isolated incident, and does (not) represent... the Creepypasta community as a whole," the statement read, according to CNN. "This wiki does not endorse or advocate for killing, worship, and otherwise replication of rituals of fictional works. There is a line of between fiction and reality, and it is up to you to realize where the line is. We are a literature site, not a satanic cult."

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The statement added that "it's hard to justify pinning blame on an entire genre of writing."

Both girls were charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide and are being held on $500,000 bail.

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