Bill Cosby's website hastily withdrew a "meme generator" Monday after Internet users deployed it to recycle decade-old rape allegations against the comedian.
The meme initiative quickly unraveled after Cosby's twitter account sent out a photo along with a hashtag and link to a Web page where fans could make presumably humorous memes by adding text to other Cosby photos from over the years. Instead, users -- who numbered in the hundreds, according to some reports Tuesday -- descended on the page to post comments relating to the rape allegations. Cosby's twitter account has nearly 4 million followers.
The allegations surfaced in news accounts in 2006, most prominently after a 32-year-old woman, a former Temple University employee, settled a lawsuit after claiming she had been sexually assaulted in Cosby's Philadelphia mansion in 2004. Nearly a dozen women over a period of decades have filed complaints that he had sexually harassed them, or in some instances, administered so-called date rape drugs, then sexually assaulted them.
The allegations resurfaced last month when Hannibal Buress, a comedian and comedy writer, brought them up during a stand-up routine. His comments were recorded and posted on Youtube, where they promptly went viral.
No charges were ever filed. Cosby has declined to comment on the allegations, and his representative declined to comment Tuesday on the Web attacks.
Cosby, 77, remains an active -- and hugely popular -- draw on the live comedy circuit, and a year ago, starred in his first televised special in decades. He's currently developing a new comedy for NBC, described by network executives as a "multigenerational" family sitcom. It's expected to bow sometime in 2015.