Call up the cast of CSI: Cyber: We've got an Internet mystery on our hands.
Reddit user TheGamble wrote a script that queried a million random URLs from the popular image hosting site Imgur. A little more than half of those turned out to not actually be legit Imgur URLs, but more than 400,000 returned actual pictures.
Of those, the same strange photo came back 3,568 times. That's one out of every 120 photos in the sample. The photo is weird: It shows Uncle Pennybags, from the Monopoly games, with the word "Facebook" printed on his hat, and a string from his finger attached to a passport, a search engine, and a credit card and some cash.
Extrapolating the 0.833% sample pattern to all of Imgur, TheGamble estimates the Monopoly Facebook picture may have been uploaded more than 3 million times.
Which begs the question: why?
A Gizmodo article says the origin of the picture is an illustration by artist Erica Glazier for a 2011 Forbes article "The Bank of Facebook: Currency, Identity, Reputation." Someone must have really liked that article.
Some of the other top results from TheGamble's test are also strange. There's nothing too remarkable about people hosting horizontal line graphics on Imgur, but who is this guy?
Stupid question: Obviously, he's DJ David. But why does he show up 341 times in the sample — potentially hundreds of thousands of times on Imgur?
And what about this guy who apparently just won a new Volkswagen Polo?
It's a nice car, but 300,000 uploads nice? Facebook Monopoly Man could probably afford a better one.
So really, what's going on? Is this a sign of an impending acquisition of board game company Hasbro by Facebook? Or, more likely, did some spambot that uses Imgur's API break down at some point and just accidentally upload Uncle Pennybags a few hundred thousand times?