ARLINGTON, VA – From Harry Potter to Downton Abbey to David Bowie, on-line personality quizzes have become an annoyingly infectious internet sensation. After responding to a simple set of questions, these websites assign users a fictional character who best matches their unique personality traits. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) picked up on the fad and was eager to hitch-hike a little public health education onto the quiz bandwagon. They created a website that assigns each user a delightful disease-causing microbe to match their distinctive personal characteristics. Unfortunately, the “Pathogen Quiz” generated more trouble than education.
In just 28 hours, the CDC disease personality site went “viral.” The quiz got more than 1.3 million hits and caused CDC servers to crash, limiting the public’s access to centralized information about how vaccines don’t cause autism. After a host of technical issues with the website and several complaints about the content, the CDC closed the quiz.
Messages like the one below, which were posted on social media after users took the quiz, generated relationship troubles for several users.
“When my girlfriend saw that I got herpes, she tweeted me and said that our relationship was over,” said Dennis Jennighes, an insurance salesman in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
Several users were upset by the diseases they received.
“I got C. difficile, and it said awful things about me. I’m not a bad person,” said Gene Blidders who was livid about the character traits ascribed to her by the website.
“I don’t want to be malaria,” said Buck Cransville. “Why can’t I be a good microbe like the ones that make beer and yogurt?”
The CDC has apologized for any confusion or offense which was caused by the website.
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