Prank News

Blog Posts

Terror Pranking, a Brief History

posted by
Filed under: Hoax Etiquette, Prank News, Pranksters, The History of Pranks, What Makes a Good Prank?

There’s a huge difference between socially revealing satirical commentary and scaring the shit out of everyone…


Inside the world of extreme ‘terror pranking’
BBC
February 11, 2018

Fake bombs, staged murders, stunts that resemble acid attacks – as competition for eyeballs on YouTube gets fiercer every day, popular vloggers are resorting to extreme pranks to get clicks.

Arya Mosallah’s video channel had more than 650,000 subscribers. But his YouTube career came skidding to a halt with a video titled “Throwing Water On Peoples Faces PT. 2”. In it, he approaches several people, and after a brief conversation, throws a cup of water in their faces.

Many viewers thought the prank in the video looked like an attempt by the British social media star to mimic an acid attack – amid a recent increase in such crimes in London and across the UK.

YouTube deleted Mosallah’s channel – and then a second channel he set up. He told the BBC he had not meant to reference acid attacks – but that he would continue to produce prank videos.

But Arya Mosallah is certainly not the first YouTuber to get into trouble for prank videos. His story, along with the controversy over hugely popular Youtuber Logan Paul joking about a suicide victim to his young audience, have put a spotlight on extreme content on YouTube.

But although it appears to be on the rise – and is getting more attention from news outlets – extreme pranking is not an entirely new phenomenon. For some time, vloggers have been faking bomb attacks and murders, tricking and frightening friends and members of the public in an attempt to up their view counts. Read the rest of this article here.

Speaking of Artificial Intelligence…

posted by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

Friendly foes seek world peace at the Olympics but are shown the door instead.


‘Trump' And ‘Kim' Thrown Out Of Opening Ceremony
Reuters
February 10, 2018

"We wanted to surprise everyone and bring world peace and then we're being escorted out by security guards, which I think is really unfair."

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA – FEBRUARY 09: Impersonators of Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un pose during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – People dressed up as U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un caused a commotion when they appeared in the stands at the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony on Friday before swiftly being shown out by security staff.

"We're getting along great," said the Kim lookalike, who declined to give his name.

"We wanted to surprise everyone and bring world peace and then we're being escorted out by security guards, which I think is really unfair," he added. "Doesn't everyone want peace?"

The ceremony was marked by a show of unity between North and South Korea.

Athletes from both countries entered the arena under a flag depicting a unified Korea as American Vice President Mike Pence and Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, watched on from a VIP box.

"Is my sister getting the same treatment?," the Kim lookalike said as he was escorted out of the stadium.

Deepfake: AI-Assisted Porn

posted by
Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Media Pranks, Prank News, The Future of Pranks

Hey! What’s my face doing on a porn star’s body?


Everything You Need To Know About The Face-Swap Technology That’s Sweeping The Internet (And Getting Banned Everywhere)
Digg
February 8, 2018

Gal Gadot’s face on someone else’s body. Image: Screenshot from SendVids

In the past couple of months, “deepfake” has gone from a nonsense word to a widely-used synonym for videos in which one person’s face is digitally grafted onto another person’s body. The most popular - and troubling - type of deepfake is artificially produced porn appearing to star famous actresses like Gal Gadot, Daisy Ridley and Scarlett Johansson. Sites like Reddit and Pornhub have made moves to ban pornographic deepfakes in recent days, but it’s never been easier for anyone with an internet connection to make disturbingly real-looking porn by mapping almost anyone’s face over those of porn performers. Here’s what you need to know.

‘Deepfake’ Celebrity Porn First Emerged In December

In an only somewhat hyperbolically titled article called “AI-Assisted Fake Porn Is Here and We’re All Fucked,” Motherboard’s Samantha Cole interviewed the first Redditor to post convincing face-swapped videos, who called himself “deepfakes.” (“Deepfake” which has since become a term used the doctored videos produced by the technology.) “Deepfakes” explained how he created a porn video appearing to star Gal Gadot. Read the rest here.

Pothole Gardening

posted by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Prank News, Pranksters

A new spin on urban gardening…


Prankster plants trees in NYC potholes
by Danielle Furfaro
New York Post
February 2, 2018

New York City's potholes are getting filled.

Professional prankster Coby Persin took to New York streets earlier this week to do what he claims the city Department of Transportation won't – fill potholes. But he's filling them with flowers, plants, and trees as a clear warning for drivers.

"Two days ago, when I was driving around New York City, I hit a pothole with my car and my tire popped and I had to buy a new one," Persin, who has more than 3.7 million subscribers on his channel, said on the video. "The city doesn't clean them up until the summer. So I was thinking that had a seen a plant inside the pothole, I would have driven around the plant and not hit the pothole." Read the rest here.

Bicyclist (aka the FCC) Throttles the Streets in Front of the FCC (aka the Internet) to Create Priority Access

posted by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

An allegory for our times. Rob Bliss “throttled” the road in front of the FCC so he could charge $5/month for priority access to protest Agit Pai and the FCC’s recent repeal of net neutrality.


Hero bicyclist narrows streets near FCC and offers drivers $5 “Priority Access” so drivers can “choose the plan that best suits their needs”
by Cory Doctorow
BoingBoing
February 2, 2018

An act of heroic trolling from Net Neutrality advocate Rob Bliss, who “throttled” access to DC’s 12th Street by traffic-coning all but one lane, then cycled slowly up and down the remaining lane with a sign offering drivers “priority access” to his “fast lane” for $5/month.

Watch the video by Rob Bliss

Bliss was making a pointed statement about Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who insisted that he alone could see the looming problem of network management that could only be fixed by allowing ISPs to use their publicly subsidized infrastructure to limit who could get to the network services they wanted to visit.

The 2017 April Fools’ Day Parade “Trumpathon” hits Japanese TV News [Japanese]

posted by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

A couple of weeks ago, The New York City 2017 April Fools’ Day Parade “Trumpathon”, the world’s largest gathering of Donald Trump look-alikes, was included in a TBS NEWS report about Donald Trump’s “Fake News Awards”. Watch to the end. Story is in Japanese and the link will only be available for a limited time.

Forget About Getting a Table Here

by
Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fact or Fiction?, Fraud and Deception, How to Pull Off a Prank, Instructionals, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The World of the Prank

Update January 25, 2018: Vice Video: How to Become TripAdvisor’s #1 Fake Restaurant. Thanks Frank.

The London restaurant so exclusive that no one could ever get a reservation. H/t Bob O’Keefe.

Bonus: Oobah Butler’s Vice play book on how he pulled it off.


“The Shed at Dulwich” was London’s top-rated restaurant. Just one problem: It didn’t exist.
By Eli Rosenberg
The Washington Post
December 8, 2017

It was a unique restaurant in London and certainly the hardest to get into. And it beat out thousands of upscale restaurants in the city to earn the top ranking on the popular review site TripAdvisor for a time, drawing a flood of interest.

There was just one small problem: It didn’t exist.

The restaurant was just a listing created this year by a freelance writer, Oobah Butler, who used his home — a shed in the Dulwich area in South London — as the inspiration for a high-concept new restaurant that he posted on TripAdvisor: “The Shed at Dulwich.”

With hardly more than some fake reviews — “Best shed based experience in London!” a particularly cheeky one read — and a website, it had gamed the site’s ratings in London, a highly sought after designation that could bring a surge of business to any restaurant, let alone one in major global capital.

The story has by now traveled around the globe and back, after Butler wrote a piece that exposed the ruse on Vice. It has been hailed as an incredible feat. But in an era increasingly influenced by disinformation online, it also has served as another reminder of the ease with which pranksters and other dishonest actors are able to manipulate online platforms to sometimes unthinkable results. Read more.

Indecline’s “Grave New World”

by
Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

The activist art collective Indecline, which previously goosed U.S. President Donald Trump with controversial naked statues and other photogenic stunts, has created a new piece of fake real estate for him to own.


“Artists Create a Cemetery for the Things Donald Trump Killed in 2017”
By Elena Goukassian
Hyperallergic
January 23, 2018

Late last Friday night at a golf course in rural New Jersey, a group of people wearing ski masks pulled up in a white van disguised as a Time Warner Cable vehicle and proceeded to plant six gravestones, complete with votive candles, miniature American flags, and roses. When the sun came up, they returned to the scene of the crime, documenting their deed.

Commemorating the anniversary of President Trump's inauguration, guerrilla street art collective Indecline - who installed naked Trump statues in public parks throughout the country in 2016 and strung "Ku Klux Klowns" in Richmond's Bryan Park last fall - decided to create a kind of "political report card, in essence, a year in review," an anonymous representative of the group told Hyperallergic in a phone interview.

Titled "Grave New World," the project's gravestones mark the end of concepts like "Decency," which died with Trump's inauguration on January 20, 2017 (as the stone crudely says, "We ‘moved on her like a bitch’") and "The Last Snowman," which died the day Trump decided to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement ("Rest assured he was giving a scientist the finger as he went"). The remaining four stones mark the death of the American Dream with the immigration ban; of "Our Future" with the end of DACA; of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with the arrival of Mick Mulvaney; and of "Those Bootstraps They Keep Talking About" with the latest tax bill. The anonymous representative noted that they really had to narrow down the gravestones from "a diverse selection of things Trump fucked up" in the last year. "We would have needed a much larger budget to cover everything." Read more.

Meet the Right-Wing Street Artists of Hollywood

by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks

From Breitbart on down, well-compensated conservative media trolls ramp up their presence in the entertainment capital of the world.


“How Hollywood’s Conservative ‘Street Artists’ Troll the Industry”
By Paul Bond
The Hollywood Reporter
December 22, 2018

In a booth on the Westside of Los Angeles sit a trio of conservative provocateurs plotting their next “street art” prank on a liberal celebrity destined to be thrust into the limelight for reasons beyond the person’s control. The restaurant has become a watering hole for conservatives who work in Hollywood and don't usually share their political opinions with their liberal colleagues for fear of retribution.

Friends of Abe, the private group of Hollywood conservatives, used to meet at the same place. The three artists, in fact were often spotted at FOA gatherings, where actors like Tom Selleck, Gary Sinise, Robert Duvall, Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton generously hobnobbed with others in the entertainment industry who lacked their fame and fortune.

One of the street artists usually works independent of the others, but recently they've banded together to focus their efforts on Harvey Weinstein and all those who, they claim, allegedly enabled his predatory behavior for decades. Their aim is to call out Hollywood for its "hypocrisy," they say. Two of them have careers in the industry to protect so they remain anonymous, and their anonymity is fodder for detractors who take to social media to call them out for cowardice and slander.

One justifies his secrecy by noting he'd surely be fired for his very public artwork - which sometimes amounts to attacks on actors, movies and TV shows he is associated with through his full-time job. Another is a freelancer in the industry who used to design interactive media for Steven Spielberg. Read more.

New Dirty Politics: Fake Internet Comments

by
Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Fraud and Deception, Political Pranks, Prank News, Propaganda and Disinformation

Fake internet comments may be the only thing worse than real internet comments.


“Fake Comments on Trump Administration Website are Trying to Take Down an Obama-era Rule”
By Greg Price
Newsweek
December 27, 2018

Critical fake comments, attributed to a real person, were reportedly posted against a controversial fiduciary rule to the Department of Labor's website, presumably to convince the department to do away with the rule altogether.

Altogether, 40 percent of people who responded to a survey conducted for The Wall Street Journal stated they did not write the negative comments against the rule first implemented under former President Barack Obama to protect investors and avoid conflicts of interest at brokerage firms and other financial institutions.

The survey was conducted by research firm Mercury Analytics for The Journal. It was sent to 345 people out of the 3,100 comments posted to the Labor Department's site about the fiduciary rule. Most of the 345 comments were critical of the rule, but of the 50 people to respond to the survey, 20 told The Journal they did not author the critical post.

Fake California Road Signs Mock the State’s Immigration Policies

by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

Since mid-2017, the Golden State has seen a number of politically charged fake road signs, mostly focused on its perceived friendliness to immigrants.


“Prank California highway signs ‘welcome’ felons, illegal immigrants and MS-13”
by Greg Norman
Fox News
January 2, 2018

Drivers entering California are being greeted with signs proclaiming the liberal bastion an “OFFICIAL SANCTUARY STATE,” according to photos and videos circulating on social media appearing to show a prankster attached the official-looking blue signs just below legitimate “Welcome to California” markers.

The sanctuary state sign, which adds “Felons, Illegals and MS13 [gang members] welcome,” is similar to one hung up by a Malibu activist last year.

"Democrats Need The Votes!" reads a message on the signs, which are plastered with the Great Seal of California and a donkey, one of the symbols of the Democratic Party.

California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) spokesman Mark Dinger told Fox News on Tuesday that one of the signs was taken down yesterday on Interstate-15 near the California/Nevada border. A crew has been dispatched today to remove another sign spotted on I-40 near the border with Arizona, he added. Read more.

The Long Overdue Trump Apology

posted by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Propaganda and Disinformation

From Liz Plank’s Twitter @feministabulous. Click through to watch this inspired video:
The president won’t apologize to women so I did it for him.

Dance Liberation Front Declares Victory against NYC’s Anti-Fun Cabaret Law

posted by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The History of Pranks

Kudos to Rev Jen, Robert Prichard, Faceboy and everyone who contributed to this great act of civil disobedience in New York City!


Long Before Cabaret Law Repeal, ‘Dance Commandos' Boogied for Justice
by Rev Jen
Chelsea Now
November 20, 2017

At the "Robot Dance Protest" at Federal Hall back in the early days of the Dance Liberation Front, from left, patriots John Foster, Rev. Jen, and Faceboy. Photo courtesy Rev. Jen.

It's time for a victory dance! After 91 years, New York's archaic Cabaret Law has been repealed in a 41-to-1 vote. So put on your dancin' shoes, wave your hands in the air like you just don't care, head to your favorite watering hole, and shake your booty clean off. (We have to wait until 30 days until after de Blasio signs off on the legislation, but it's never too early to practice your moves at home.)

This victory holds a special space in my heart, as I have been working on the law's repeal since 1998 when I formed the Dance Liberation Front (DLF), along with fellow Art Stars Robert Prichard and Faceboy.

It all started one morning when I bumped into Robert Prichard, the proprietor of the now-defunct Surf Reality (172 Allen St., btw. Stanton & Rivington Sts.). He told me that the previous evening, Baby Jupiter, a nearby club where I performed every Monday, was busted because their customers had been dancing.

I wasn't sure I'd heard him correctly.

"Dancing?" I asked.

Rob explained that in order to crack down on nightlife, Giuliani had dusted off a regulation from the 1920s called the "Cabaret Law," which states that more than four people dancing in an unlicensed venue serving alcohol is illegal. Out of the thousands of bars in New York City, only a handful of the most well-financed clubs were able to obtain the dancing license.

It took a minute to process the Kafkaesque concept: Dancing was illegal in "Fun City."

Rob suggested we create a group - the DLF - to bring to light the heinous crime Guiliani's nightlife task force was perpetrating on the public. Read the rest of this story here.

Canards For Humanity

by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts, Satire

In what has become an annual American holiday tradition, the creative team behind the party game Cards Against Humanity is pulling a satirical marketing stunt. (In 2014, we talked with ringleader Max Temkin about the “Box of Bullshit” and his reverence for Abbie Hoffman.) This time, their gimmick carries a fresh and righteous political charge.


“Cards Against Humanity is the undisputed champion of holiday promotions”
by Lindsey Quinn
The Hustle
November 16, 2017

The world's raunchiest card game has purchased a plot of vacant land along the Mexico-US border and has hired an eminent domain lawyer to make it "as time-consuming and expensive as possible" for the Trump administration to build its proposed wall.

To fund their effort, CAH offered a package of "six surprises" for $15 - all of which are now sold out.

Since the game was launched by 8 high school friends in 2011, it's gained a reputation for pulling incredibly on-point PR stunts. Read more.

Did Fake News Skew the Presidential Election?

by
Filed under: Literary Hoaxes, Media Literacy, Prank News, Pranksters

UPDATE November 9, 2017: Paul Horner, the protagonist of this story, was found dead at home on September 18, 2017, possibly from a drug overdose. Poynter.org investigates how his websites have disappeared in recent weeks, plus other unanswered questions.


Among the myriad of influences on the presidential election results, a prominent and pervasive force has been fake news, propagated by unscrupulous merchants seeking traffic via social media. Here’s a quasi-confession of one such voice.

Here also, from NYMag.com is “An Extremely Helpful List of Fake and Misleading News Sites to Watch Out For“.


Facebook fake-news writer: ‘I think Donald Trump is in the White House because of me'
by Caitlin Dewey
Washington Post
November 17, 2016

imrs-sm

What do the Amish lobby, gay wedding vans and the ban of the national anthem have in common? For starters, they're all make-believe - and invented by the same man.

Paul Horner, the 38-year-old impresario of a Facebook fake-news empire, has made his living off viral news hoaxes for several years. He has twice convinced the Internet that he's British graffiti artist Banksy; he also published the very viral, very fake news of a Yelp vs. "South Park" lawsuit last year.

But in recent months, Horner has found the fake-news ecosystem growing more crowded, more political and vastly more influential: In March, Donald Trump's son Eric and his then-campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, even tweeted links to one of Horner's faux-articles. His stories have also appeared as news on Google.

In light of concerns that stories like Horner's may have affected the presidential election, and in the wake of announcements that both Google and Facebook would take action against deceptive outlets, Intersect called Horner to discuss his perspective on fake news. This transcript has been edited for clarity, length and - ahem - bad language. Read more