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YouTuber Tricks Influencers into Promoting Pieces of Gravel By Calling Them “Moon Rocks”

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  • In an elaborate hoax, YouTuber Josh Pieters sent multiple influencers pieces of gravel, which were gifted as apparent “moon rocks” from the National Space Centre in the U.K.
  • Influencers such as Louise Thompson, Oli White, and Jack Maynard fell for the prank and posted the “moon rocks” to social media.
  • The National Space Centre caught wind of the hoax and alerted at least one of the influencers.
  • Pieters said he created the prank, in part, to see if influencers vet what they promote.

Influencers Post About Moon Rocks

After a group of influencers posted about receiving packages with “moon rocks” from the National Space Centre in the United Kingdom, YouTuber Josh Pieters posted a video revealing that the rocks were nothing more than gravel from a nursery as part of an intricate prank.

“As if this is from the moon!” Louise Thompson, who has 1.1 million followers, said in an Instagram story. “What? This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life!”

Lousie Thompson promoting the fake moon rocks on Instagram. Source: Josh Pieters

“Whoa, it’s so smooth!” YouTuber Oli White, who has 2.8 million followers, said. “I have a piece of the moon!” 

White later referred to his piece as “the sacred moon rock.”

Other influencers who posted about their “moon rocks” include Sophie Habboo, Harry Baron, Emily Blackwell, Jack Maynard, and Emma Walsh. Habboo and Baron are also reality stars on a show called Made in Chelsea.

In total, Pieter sent 40 packages — roughly half to influencers he knew and the other half to random influencers. 

Within each package, Pieters included a handwritten cover letter and a fake certificate of authenticity labeled from the National Space Centre.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, we at the National Space Centre are delighted to send you your very own piece of the moon,” the cover letter reads. “Feel free to share!”


Jack Maynard’s Instagram story showing the handwritten cover letter. Source: Josh Pieters

While the “moon rocks” were fakes, the prank comes on the heels of the actual 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, when American Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to land on the moon. 

“NWA 12427 is the 12,427th rock recovered in the northwest African grid of the Sahara Desert to be analyzed and classified,” each of faux certificates read.


Pieter’s fake certificate of authenticity. Source: Josh Pieters

Hoax Unravels

After posting to his rock to social media, the National Space Centre direct messaged YouTuber Jack Maynard to tell him they didn’t send out the rock.

Notably, they also seemed to question the authenticity of the rock.

“Hi, Jack, thanks for tagging us in your story,” a representative said in the message. “However, we don’t believe this ‘Moon Rock’ has come from us at the National Space Centre. This is not our official compliment slip and we are not sure who has sent this to you. We’re looking into this but if you have any clues as to who might have sent this to you, please let us know.” 


The National Space Centre’s direct message to Jack Maynard telling him the “moon rock” isn’t from them. Source: Josh Pieters

According to Washington University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, only 0.1 percent of meteorites come from the moon. Nearly all meteorites come from asteroids.

Part of the reason for the rarity is because the moon has a gravitational pull, though this pull is not so strong that lunar pieces can’t be sent flying into space when the moon’s surface is struck by other meteorites.

Sender’s Identity Revealed

Pieters later posted a video titled “I Tricked Influencers Into Promoting Gravel,” which details how he and a friend crafted the hoax.

In the video, Pieters apologizes to the National Space Centre for impersonating them but said he hopes the free publicity made it okay.

While Pieters said he partially thought up the prank for fun, he said he also viewed it as a social experiment to see if influencers actually look into the items they promote.

“Obviously with me being technically an influencer myself, we do often get sent really arbitrary things,” Pieters said in an interview with INSIDER. “I just started to wonder, ‘Is there anything you could send an influencer that they actually wouldn’t post about?’”

So far, Pieters said none of the influencers he targeted have been upset with him.

“Most of them seemed to take it really well,” he told INSIDER. “I’ve gotten messages from them afterwards saying, ‘Ha ha you got me.’ I’m sitting waiting for a horrible message, but I haven’t received one yet.”

Pieters said he believes he also would have fallen for the prank if it had happened to him.

See what others are saying: (INSIDER) (The Tab) (We The Unicorns)

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Ace Family’s Austin McBroom and Team Accused of Rape

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  • YouTuber Cole Carrigan posted a video where he claimed his friend and another woman were sexually assaulted by Austin McBroom, his basketball player friend, and his father.
  • McBroom is part of the Ace Family, which has over 17 million subscribers on YouTube.
  • Carrigan’s video also included screenshots to show that the women had met with McBroom, along with a photo of blood on the bedsheets after alleged forced penetration, and an anonymous phone call with one of the alleged victims.
  • The story prompted #AceFamilyisOverParty to trend on Twitter. McBroom addressed the situation himself online denying the allegations and claiming he is a victim of extortion, defamation, and slander.

Accusations in Video

Family vlogger and patriarch of the Ace Family Austin McBroom, his father, and other acquaintances, have been accused of sexual assault in a new video posted by YouTuber Cole Carrigan. 

Carrigan uploaded a 15-minute video titled “The Truth About The Ace Family..” on Monday. He opened by discussing the recent rumors about McBroom cheating on his wife, Catherine Paiz, before saying the allegations go further than just infidelity. 

Carrigan claimed that his friend and another woman were assaulted by McBroom and several people he knew. He claimed he was making the video on behalf of them because they signed an NDA and because it is difficult to bring allegations forward against a prominent man.

According to Carrigan, the two girls had been drinking when they went back to their room to change. McBroom, his security guard, father, and two friends followed them back. 

“Obviously I don’t have recordings of what went down in the room,” Carrigan said, “but my friend told me that she repeatedly said ‘no’ multiple times over and over to the point where she started crying and begging them to stop. That’s when they forced themselves in her and I will insert the photos of the blood all over the bedsheets in the hotel room right here.” 

He included a photo that showed bloodstains on sheets as potential evidence that the intercourse was forced.

He also called his friend so she could tell her story, though she was not named and her voice was distorted to hide her identity. She also said that she and another woman had walked to their room and that the group had followed them there.

She claimed that the guys were being flirty, but she and the other girl were too under the influence to push them off.

She said that one of McBroom’s friends had sex with her without her consent and that McBroom’s father tried to force her to perform oral sex. 

“But the next thing I remember is, unfortunately, being on the bed and his NBA player friend was having sex with me,” she said. “I don’t ever remember giving him consent to. The next thing I remember is looking up and Austin’s dad Allen is there and I am seeing him unbuckle his pants, pull down his pants, and pull out his penis in front of my face, basically wanting me to suck his penis.” 

She went on to say that around then, the security guard walked in and she went to check in on her friend. 

“All of a sudden I hear her yelling ‘no’ and screaming and crying,” she said. “And all of the guys start rushing around the room because my friend is literal hysterical crying and sobbing and she’s just sitting in the shower. Then after that we just got in bed and we were just crying for the rest of the night.”

Carrigan’s video also included several screenshots to show that his friends had met with McBroom. There were screenshots that show McBroom and his father in Miami on June 21, the night before the incident. 

Screenshot via YouTube: Cole Carrigan

There were also screenshots of texts Carrigan claims were sent the following morning. The first was to one of McBroom’s friends, where the girls seemed disinterested in communicating. The video alleges that the two girls had been hiding in their room when they first received the messages.

Another showed one of the girls reaching out to her ex in Miami and beginning to explain the situation. 

Screenshot of conversation with alleged victim and McBroom’s friend.
Screenshot of one of the alleged victims reaching out to her ex.

Carrigan also showed screenshots of his friend allegedly texting McBroom about what girls he wanted to be brought to Miami. 

Screenshot via YouTube: Cole Carrigan
Screenshot via YouTube: Cole Carrigan

Another screenshot allegedly showed McBroom’s assistant telling Carrigan’s friend to not let the story out because there could be “serious consequences.” 

Screenshot via YouTube: Cole Carrigan

There were also screenshots Carrigan said came from girls who told him they had their own inappropriate interactions with McBroom. In one, it appears someone is accusing McBroom of impregnating them. These allegations are unverified. 

Screenshot via YouTube: Cole Carrigan
Screenshot via YouTube: Cole Carrigan

Online Responses

The video ended up generating a lot of online chatter, with #AceFamilyIsOverParty trending on Twitter. Many used the hashtag to express their disgust in the story. 

More also shared screenshots of their alleged encounters with McBroom. 

While some shared them online, others doubted their legitimacy. Paiz tweeted that she did not know who was worse: “The person who photoshops conversations OR the people who believe it?” She accompanied this tweet with what appears to be a fake interaction between her and Kanye West. 

Another screenshot that, again, is unverified allegedly came from one of the girls in the story, Leslie. Users said she had posted her side of the story to Instagram before deleting it.

She posted a notes app message where she discusses Carrigan’s video, which she says was made with ill intent, and also identifies the other alleged victim in it as Amanda. 

“I feel like this video was made for the wrong reasons and this wasn’t Cole’s story to tell,” she wrote. “Cole even texted me saying we could potentially get paid $100,000 from this following the claim that Drama alert was payed off $500k.”

Screenshot via Twitter @AustinMcBroom

This refers to Carrigan claiming that Drama Alert’s Keemstar was going to post a video on the topic but was paid $500,000 not to. Keemstar denies this and posted his own video on Tuesday.

Leslie went on to say that McBroom did not rape her and was not to blame.

 “I wasn’t aware Amanda or Cole were in contact with drama alert to anonymously run our story,” the alleged post continued. “But I was aware of Cole’s video being made, and I only wanted it to be factual if it was ever going to be posted. I wanted to say that Austin McBroom is not to blame in the situation and did not rape me or anyone. I’m currently handling this situation in my own way. I brought this to social media to address false accusations. This isn’t what I wanted, there’s several sides to every story and this isn’t how I wanted to tell mine.”

The post also included a screenshot of what appears to be a text from Carrigan saying they could be paid $100,000 not to tell the story and that they could all split it. 

Screenshot via Twitter @AustinMcBroom

On Tuesday morning, McBroom responded to the allegations. He shared Leslie’s screenshots and released a statement claiming he was a “victim of extortion, defamation, and slander.” 

“I knew this was a cold world but never did I foresee something this disturbing upon me,” he wrote. “Thank you to all of my Ace Family members for all of your concerns and thank you to those who know my character and my heart. I don’t wish this upon anyone and I can only hope that those responsible for this learn from their mistakes and become better people. My family and I dealing with this matter privately and taking legal action. Bullying, extortion, slander and defamation of charterer is something I will not stand for and I can promise that justice will be served.” 

See what others are saying: (Newsweek) (Distractify) (Daily Dot)

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Following Ninja Deal, Gamers Flock to Mixer but Viewership Falls, According to New Data

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  • Following Mixer’s exclusive acquisition of Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, a new report shows that the number of unique channels on the platform has nearly doubled, but viewership has fallen.
  • In contrast, Blevins’ former platform Twitch has gained viewership but seen a decrease in channels and number of hours streamed.
  • Last week, Blevins’ wife and manager, said he made the decision to move to Mixer because his chatroom on Twitch became “toxic” and because Twitch’s contract with him would have limited his licensing deals. 

Mixer’s Growth Since Ninja Deal

A new report shows some of the contributions Ninja’s exclusive streaming deal with Mixer may have generated, including a major increase in the number of streamers and content on the platform, though overall views have decreased.

Ninja — whose real name is Tyler Blevins — joined the platform in August after leaving Twitch, a move that sent shockwaves through the gaming community, with many wondering how the switch would affect not only Blevins’ career but also Twitch and Mixer.

The report, published by Streamlabs and Newzoo, found that the number of unique channels on Mixer had doubled from 1.96 million in the second quarter to 3.92 million when Blevins joined in the third quarter.

Source: Streamlabs

Streamlabs attributed the massive gain to Blevins’s relocation to the platform, which it said likely encouraged other gamers to make a similar switch.

Because of the influx of new streamers, the number of hours users streamed on Mixer tripled from 11 million hours to just under 33 million.

Source: Streamlabs

Even though the number of streamers skyrocketed, Streamlabs actually reported that Mixer lost viewership in its third quarter, dropping from 100 million hours watched to 90 million hours watched. 

Source: Streamlabs

Since 2018, Mixer has consistently risen in viewership, with this quarter tracking the only dropoff within the past two years. Nonetheless, the yearly growth for Mixer has more than doubled. Experts have also noted the third quarter is usually the weakest part of the year for streaming platforms.

Metrics for Twitch and YouTube Gaming

Conversely, the Streamlabs report found that Twitch suffered the opposite problem: gaining viewership but losing streamers and content. 

Many have attributed Twitch’s loss of streamers in Q3 partially to those users moving to Mixer following its deal with Blevins; however, Twitch has been losing users for two quarters now. Since Q1, Twitch has actually lost about 2 million streamers and now sits below Mixer at 3.77 million users.

Twitch currently still dominates the streaming community, however, logging 2,551 million hours viewed for Q3.

Regarding users and hours streamed, YouTube Gaming has also seen a dropoff since Mixer’s acquisition of Blevins, but the number of hours viewed on the platform remained relatively unaffected between quarters. 

Source: Streamlabs

The Mixer-Ninja Deal

While the report indicates Blevins may not have had a substantial impact on bringing viewers to Mixer, it is unlikely his deal with the platform will change because of that. 

In an interview with Business Insider last week, Ninja’s wife and manager — Jessica Blevins — discussed why he decided to move to Mixer. She said part of his decision stemmed from toxicity in Blevins’ chatroom while streaming.

“I could tell, as his wife, the last few months on Twitch, he just didn’t seem like the Ninja that I knew,” she told the news agency, “He didn’t seem as enthusiastic, as loud, as hyped-up about wins and motivated to stream. It really seemed like he was kind of losing himself and his love for streaming.”

She also said they had tried to make a deal with Twitch but said they felt like they weren’t being listened to. She specifically pointed to the fact that Twitch’s contract would have limited Ninja’s licensing deals.

She then went on to say that Microsoft aligned with their ideals, calling it a warm and friendly environment. 

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (Digital Trends) (The Esports Observer)

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Trisha Paytas Accused of Exploiting Transgender Community

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  • Trisha Paytas posted a vlog titled “I AM TRANSGENDER (FEMALE TO MALE)” and specifically claimed to identify as a gay man. In the video, Paytas said: “So do I think I’m transgender? Yes. 1,000 percent. Do I identify with my natural-born gender? 1,000 percent.” 
  • Among the reasons listed for coming to this realization, Paytas included not wearing makeup every day, not having a ton of female friends, being attracted to gay men, and having “penis envy.”
  • Paytas received backlash from people who said the video dangerously equated gender stereotypes to gender identity and accused the YouTuber of trolling people for clicks.
  • Paytas apologized for the wording in the video, and added that the intent behind it was sincere. The YouTuber claimed that this has been an ongoing journey since childhood and that a therapist is currently helping with it. 

Paytas Posts Video

Trisha Paytas’ latest vlog titled “I AM TRANSGENDER (FEMALE TO MALE)” has landed the YouTuber into a pool of criticism, with many saying the video exploits the transgender community for attention.

Paytas opened Monday’s video by talking about being called names in school for having masculine features. The YouTube star also claimed to never love being a woman and described feeling most empowered when wearing masculine clothes and short hair. Paytas then claimed to identify as a man, specifically, a gay man. 

“Here’s the thing, I identify with men better,” Paytas said. “People always think there’s something wrong with me because I don’t have that many girlfriends. Like, I love girls, I do love girls and I love their sensitivity and stuff like that but that’s why identify more as a gay man because I like guys  but I also identify as a guy if that makes sense.” 

Paytas added that the one hang up in coming to this conclusion was loving glam and getting dolled up. Paytas then compared this identity to that of a drag queen. 

“So, in my head, I feel like I am a transgender female to male, but also a drag queen. That’s how I’ve rationalized it in my head,” Paytas added

Paytas then listed several reasons for making the announcement. This list included not loving being the center of attention unless specifically seeking it, not wanting to wear make-up on a day-to-day basis, being attracted to gay men, and having a distaste for straight men’s masculinity.

Paytas also talked about feeling “penis envy.”

“And then the final thing that kind of brings it full, I feel transgender almost is I’ve always had penis envy,” Paytas explained. “Like, this sounds so crazy to say out loud. I just always thought my life would be easier if I had that part. That if I asserted myself I wouldn’t be a bitch, but like, a man.” 

As far as pronouns, Paytas never specifically declared what to use going forward. However, Paytas did say that they/them pronouns are “confusing.” 

“That sounds like plural people,” Paytas commented. “And while people think I am schizophrenic or have multiple personalities, I choose not to identify as multiple personalities.”

The YouTuber continued to talk about gender fluidity and the idea that someone can feel male one day and a female the next, noting that this should be more widely accepted. Paytas also added that the intent behind this video is sincere and not to offend the trans community.

“I know that’s such a misconception, that transgender people are confused,” Paytas said. “And it’s not that I’m confused it’s that I identify as both. I just don’t necessarily like the term they or them.”

“So do I think I’m transgender? Yes. 1000% Do I identify with my natural-born gender? 1000%,” Paytas added.  

Video Gets Backlash

This video generated widespread backlash because people thought it could do a lot of harm to the trans community. Some were worried that Paytas was trolling to get more views, while others were just upset with the way the video presented the idea of being trans. 

Pride.com wrote a piece on the video, noting some of the specific ways Paytas’ rational could be dangerous. 

“While we’re always happy to support someone’s coming out journey, there’s a lot of problematic things to unpack with Trisha’s latest vlog,” the post read.

“The likes of which include: The fact that they don’t wear makeup or do their hair every day, which must mean they’re trans; That they’re “not catty” like “most women; Their attraction to gay men must mean they themselves are a gay man.”

“As many of us know, there’s more to being transgender than hair and makeup,” the article continues. 

Many others were also afraid that Paytas was equating gender-based stereotypes to gender identity, and conflating this idea with a sexual attraction to gay men. 

“Every single reason she gave for being trans was 100% invalid, offensive, & stereotype driven,” one user wrote. 

“Just because you were a tomboy, don’t wear makeup, and have a fetish for gay men doesn’t mean your trans,” said another. 

Drag queen Vicky Vox accused Paytas of using gender identity for clickbait. 

Others did attempt to be more sympathetic with their criticism. YouTuber Jake Edwards acknowledged that some of Paytas’ language could be harmful, but said people should still not turn to sending hate. 

This should be met with allowing Trisha the space to learn,” Edwards wrote. 

YouTuber Gigi Gorgeous said she talked on the phone with Paytas after being incredibly confused by the video. While Gigi did think some of the comments were problematic, she still said she wanted to respect Paytas’ identity, transition, and journey.

“I firmly believe that someone tells you who they are, what their label is, how they want to be identified, you have to believe that person,” she said in a response video.

Trisha Responds to Backlash

Paytas did respond to some of the backlash that the video received. 

“You don’t know me, my journey , my struggle, my transition,” Paytas wrote in response to Vox. “I’ve been with a gender identity therapy specialist for the past 6 months cause I hated who I was since I was 3.”

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Paytas also clarified that this was not meant to be a joke.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Paytas also took to Instagram to further address the widespread responses. 

Screenshot via Instagram @trishapaytas

“I’m sorry that offended you but that is my truth and my reality that I have been facing,” Paytas wrote in an Instagram story. “It’s honest and it’s the difficulty I’m facing while transitioning. People don’t have the right to be offended by my truth. Men reject me because I’m too feminine. It’s not fair but it’s my reality and it’s my struggle that I’m going through.”

It has put me in a severe depression. I’m sorry,” Paytas added. “You don’t know my struggle. What I face may not be the same for other [female to male] but its what I have to hear and deal with on the regular for years.”

Paytas Posts Apology Video

On Tuesday morning Paytas posted another video called “apology.” In it, the YouTuber mentioned Gigi and her video, and said that their phone call was very impactful. Paytas also added that the backlash the video received was not expected, as the intent behind it was genuine. Paytas claimed that this has been an ongoing struggle since childhood that a therapist has been helping with. 

“I hated my breasts. I hated my vagina,” Paytas explained. “I hated going into the female bathroom. I hated being classified as a female. I hated being told to play with barbies and stuff like that.” 

Paytas then apologized for any offense the video may have caused. 

“I’m sorry if I offended people with my language and the way I said things,” Paytas said. “I’m so new to all of this. I’m so new to it.” 

“I would never mock a community that I’ve loved and has loved me and has been so open and accepting to me,” Paytas added. “I would never mock them, I would never do that disservice to myself.”

See what others are saying: (Pride.com) (Cosmopolitan) (Insider)

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