Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Legal Issues, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters
The rise of YouTube has shifted the way people think about media, fame, and, definitely, pranks.
YouTube’s “user-created content” has always been conspicuously subject to Sturgeon’s Law, but over time, its most popular and influential celebrities have concentrated their power while newcomers have found it harder and harder to break through.
“YouTube pranksters” generally perform “social experiments” (read: wacky stunts) in public, preferably for unwitting audiences. As their attention economy becomes more stratified, certain performers have become increasingly confrontational and occasionally felonious.
The UK-based channel TrollStation operates on the genre’s outer fringes. TrollStation affiliates have violently broken the law and alienated some in the YouTube community before, but achieved peak notoriety with two fake museum heists on July 5, 2015, that just landed three (more) of them behind bars. Their sentences were light – 20 weeks is nothing for genuine art theft or violent B&E – and their case was complicated by the fact that, although they definitely horrified innocent bystanders, they didn’t actually steal anything.
Upon release, they can doubtless expect increased viewership.
For the details, read Katie Rogers’ May 19, 2016 article in The New York Times, “When YouTube Pranks Break the Law”.