A badly lit photograph of a $77 off-the-rack dress broke the Internet Friday, spawning arguments, memes and half-baked pseudo-scientific explanations over the viral frock's real colors.
By some reckonings, Buzzfeed invented "viral," but its deputy news director, Jon Passatino, appeared truly surprised by just how many clicks the dress generated. He tweeted that it broke the site's traffic records, with more than 670,000 people viewing the post simultaneously at one point and garnering 16 million hits in six hours.
Neetzan Zimmerman, formerly an editor at another viral content machine, Gawker, and widely considered an expert in virality, tweeted that the dress is a "viral singularity."
It appears to have started with a Tumblr post of the photo, headlined "what colors are this dress," and spread from there as those who saw white-and-gold engaged in pitched battles with the blue-and-black camp.
Even Singapore's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, got caught up in the excitement, letting his followers know that he's in the white-and-gold camp.
If a Mashable post is to be believed, in real life, the dress is a 50-quid offering from British retailer Roman Originals, and it's most decidedly blue and black.
Someone please photoshop a llama into that dress so the Internet can explode and kill us all— Neetzan Zimmerman (@neetzan) February 27, 2015
UPDATE: BuzzFeed told CNBC the following when asked for comment on the success of The Dress post:
"The BuzzFeed post about THE DRESS is breaking the Internet and setting new traffic records for us. It drew more visitors to our site at one time than ever before. At one point tonight, more than 670,000 people were on BuzzFeed.comsimultaneously, 500K of those on mobile, and half of those reading the dress post."
—By CNBC.Com's Leslie Shaffer; Follow her on Twitter @LeslieShaffer1