[Collected on the Internet, 1999]
DO NOT CONNECT TO THE INTERNET FROM
*** Attention ***
It's that time again! As many of you know, each year the Internet must be shut down for 24 hours in order to allow us to clean it. The cleaning process, which eliminates dead email and inactive ftp, www and gopher sites, allows for a better-working and faster Internet.
This year, the cleaning process will take place from 23:59 pm (GMT) on
In order to protect your valuable data from deletion we ask that you do the following:
We thank you for your cooperation.
Interconnected Network Maintenance Staff
Main Branch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sysops and others: Since the last Internet cleaning, the number of Internet users has grown dramatically. Please assist us in alerting the public of the upcoming Internet cleaning by posting this message where your users will be able to read it.
Please pass this message on to other sysops and Internet users as well.
[Collected via e-mail, 2006]
From: Department of Homeland Security
Date: March 29, 2006 8:48:17 AM MST
To: All US Medical Facilities
Subject: World Wide Web cleanup
It is necessary to inform all internet dependent facilities that the internet will be shut down for cleaning for twenty-four hours from midnight on
Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
U.S. Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security Randy Beardsworth
Prior to its "Internet cleaning" version, the premise of the jape was to convince the gullible that phone lines had become dirty, requiring the phone company to force air through them to clear the debris. Users were cautioned to place plastic bags over handsets, lest the dust being blown through the lines settle on everything in the house.
A 1974 version of this prank substituted "frozen" phone lines for "dirty" ones:
So many people took their phones off the hook that the central office was in a "no tone" condition for four minutes.
Reader's Digest. "Laughter, The Best Medicine." February 1974 (pp. 67-68).