Say hello to 2015 by looking back at 2014 at saying to yourself “oh God, I hope that doesn’t happen again”.

Just before Christmas we published our annual best things to happen to the internet list. Think of this as its scheming, hand-rubbing, soul-patch wearing, evil twin brother.

#Gamergate

It’s a difficult one to sum up in just a couple of sentences, but essentially #GamerGate” is an online movement that, although apparently concerned with ethics in game journalism, in actual fact started as a deeply misogynistic attack on one female game developer and her sex life, which spiralled into an even more disturbing, often threatening, women-hating, cultural monstrosity.

Click below for a more detailed account from Gawker…

The fappening

Misogyny, narcissism, shaky privacy… almost every bad thing about the digital world reared its ugly head during a deeply depressing week in August, as anonymous hackers uploaded thousands of stolen photographs from mainly female celebrities private accounts onto the seamier parts of the internet.

As for the reducing of a serious crime into a bawdy hashtag, here is Jennifer Lawrence’s take: “It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime… It’s a sexual violation. It’s disgusting.” 

U2 invaded your iTunes folder

It wasn’t ‘savvy marketing’, it wasn’t ‘a brilliant new way to market new music in a struggling industry, it wasn’t a ‘gift’. It was an intrusion. An unpleasant Frankenstein’s monster of various annoying marketing practices. It’s up there with autoplay video, Spotify ads and downloading spyware onto your browser.

For iTunes it’s a desperate, grasping move that’s indicative of how much of a dying platform it really is. For U2, it’s just business as usual.

Here is some more ranting on the subject.

2014’s worst marketing buzzwords

According to our own rigorous scientific study.

Sainsbury’s Christmas advert

The crass co-opting of a triumphant moment during an otherwise horrifying time in human history in order to persuade you to shop at its supermarkets was as offensive as it was disrespectful.

Featured wartime chocolate is available at your nearest Sainsbury’s.

The Oscars selfie

Doing more for the ubiquity of the selfie than anything else in 2014, this desperately cloying image is the reason why your mum now knows what a selfie is and why your office demands your team takes one at your Christmas party.

Flappy Bird

Doing more damage to young minds than Skrillex, huffing CO2 canisters and Keeping Up With the Kardashians combined.

If you’re one of the people who bought a second-hand, Flappy Bird enabled iPhone from eBay for £7,000, please click on the image above.

Brands continually being terrible at driving TV viewers online

As investigated in how are brands driving TV ad viewers online? The answer is badly.

As an example, here is Sony’s latest ad for Far Cry 4. The URL is briefly seen in faint writing at the bottom of the screen, but you’re too busy being attacked by a snow leopard to notice it.

However if you type farcry.com into your browser, the website doesn’t exist…

The actual site is far-cry.ubi.com. Stellar work.

Authorship no more

Having removed author photos from the SERPs in June, Google went the whole hog and removed authorship altogether in August. Our editor Graham Charlton investigated expert reaction at the time, and there are a lot of opinions in both the pro and con columns. However it does seem highly likely that the reason for the removal of authorship was because it was taking attention away from paid-for listings. 

Breaking Bad ban

A Florida mother successfully petitioned Toys ”R” Us to remove Walter White action figures from its stores.

Here’s the Bryan Cranston’s suitably measured response.

Sony hack

Irrelevant of who performed the hack, it’s a worrying sign for the future that a company can be held to ransom so easily and that a piece of art can, even in the 21st century, be so easily sacrificed. 

And that it was Seth Rogen’s fault. 

To tweet, to you

The Chuckle Brothers gave social media a go. From rapping with Tinchy Stryder… (click to play)

… to taking selfies outside the court where they were called as defence witnesses during the trial of DLT, the Brothers Chuckle hit social media hard this year. It didn’t hit back nearly hard enough.

Let’s Get Social

From the ranking of bacon as the third most important thing to share after your pets and kids, to the unbelievably toneless ‘backing singing(?)’ to the rap… The rap!

You may want to take a break from the internet for at least a week after this one.

Actually I might be on the fence with this one.

Food became an instant killer  

Of the many food crimes of 2014… Presenting The Scotch egg burger, barreling down your arteries like the boulder that chased Indiana Jones.

And you wondered why you were ‘glowing’

Photo printing website Shutterfly accidentally mass emailed “congratulations on your new baby” messages to thousands of people who weren’t pregnant.

Reactions ranged from the furious to the suitably withering.

In doing this Shutterfly experienced the red-hot-flush of embarrassment that comes after asking “when’s it due?” to a woman who turns out isn’t actually pregnant only on a national scale.

In honour of Martin Luther King Jr…

Here are some of the very worst examples of brands co-opting this year’s MLK Day for its own use.

Personalise your M&Ms with a photo

You really, really, honestly shouldn’t have. And please never come near me ever again.

 

Marty, we gotta go back…

I’m not sure who is worse, the people doing the tricking or the people who fall for it. If the ‘today is the day that Marty McFly went to the future’ meme drives you as nuts as it does me, and you’re wondering who the hell is responsible for creating all of these fake Delorean dashboards… they’re right here in this tumblr.

A new image is generated every day of the year.

If you wish to troll your Facebook friends whenever they fall for this ruse, smarmily post them the following video to prove them wrong. FYI: the real date is 21 October 2015.

#VATMOSS

As Graham Charlton stated in November, changes to EU VAT place of supply of services rules constitute a threat to small businesses which provide digital services.

Whereas VAT was previously charged in the country of the supplier, the new rules state that it will now be payable in the country where services are bought. This applies only to digital services such as ebooks, downloads and other non-physical resources. 

If a business sells, for instance, an ebook to a customer in Italy and one in Spain, it will have to pay VAT at the rate for each country, and to each country. 

For small businesses this means they will lose their VAT exemption if they sell to Europe, leading to either more costs or the passing of these costs on to customers, which will inevitably mean a less competitive price and fewer sales. Also there will be more bureaucracy as businesses face a choice of making purchases harder by asking for more customer details, or hunting around for details such as IP addresses every time they make a sale. 

And finally…

Oh right, I see what you mean by a Downton Abbey costume now. Uh… no you can’t come in.

Click on the above image to see how you can make your very own, but don’t.