The concept “meme” was first coined in 1978 in the book The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. One of the prominent characteristics of a meme is it’s ability to proliferate; to replicate, multiply, and evolve, just like a virus. Hence the term “viral” meme.
Virus’ modus operandi is initiated by attaching itself to the cellular membrane of its host. Long story short, the host cell didn’t bother to check the foreign objects DNA; once their receptors clicked, the virus’ proliferation commences.
This virus-like behavior can be seen in today’s click-bait journalism. Headlines are designed to immediately “clicked” with the target audience (the meme’s host, if you will). With just a push of a button, a meme is shared, proliferated, and thus completed it’s life cycle.
This is how memes spread so rapidly and extensively. Most of us usually never check the “DNA” of that meme. Is it benign or malicious? Is it true or false? Like all hosts, we are merely a tool, manipulated for the survival of a viral entity.