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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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Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos

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The hack appears to be a form of trolling, though it’s possible that the infiltrators were able to uncover a security flaw while reviewing Twitch’s newly-leaked source code.


Bezos Prank

Hackers targeted Twitch for a second time this week, but rather than leaking sensitive information, the infiltrators chose to deface the platform on Friday by swapping multiple background images with a photo of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. 

According to those who saw the replaced images firsthand, the hack appears to have mostly — and possibly only — affected game directory headers. Though the incident appears to be nothing more than a surface-level prank, as Amazon owns Twitch, it could potentially signal greater security flaws. 

For example, it’s possible the hackers could have used leaked internal security data from earlier this week to discover a network vulnerability and sneak into the platform. 

The latest jab at the platforms came after Twitch assured its users it has seen “no indication” that their login credentials were stolen during the first hack. Still, concerns have remained regarding the potential for others to now spot cracks in Twitch’s security systems.

It’s also possible the Bezos hack resulted from what’s known as “cache poisoning,” which, in this case, would refer to a more limited form of hacking that allowed the infiltrators to manipulate similar images all at once. If true, the hackers likely would not have been able to access Twitch’s back end. 

The photo changes only lasted several hours before being returned to their previous conditions. 

First Twitch Hack 

Despite suspicions and concerns, it’s unclear whether the Bezos hack is related to the major leak of Twitch’s internal data that was posted to 4chan on Wednesday.

That leak exposed Twitch’s full source code — including its security tools — as well as data on how much Twitch has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019. 

It also revealed Amazon’s at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library, codenamed Vapor, which would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.

Even though Twitch has said its login credentials appear to be secure, it announced Thursday that it has reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Users are still being urged to change their passwords and update or implement two-factor authentication if they haven’t already. 

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Forbes) (CNET)

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Twitch Blames Server Configuration Error for Hack, Says There’s No Indication That Login Info Leaked

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The platform also said full credit card numbers were not reaped by hackers, as that data is stored externally. 


Login and Credit Card Info Secure

Twitch released a security update late Wednesday claiming it had seen “no indication” that users’ login credentials were stolen by hackers who leaked the entire platform’s source code earlier in the day.

“Full credit card numbers are not stored by Twitch, so full credit card numbers were not exposed,” the company added in its announcement.

The leaked data, uploaded to 4chan, includes code related to the platform’s security tools, as well as exact totals of how much it has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019. 

Early Thursday, Twitch also announced that it has now reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Streamers looking for their new keys can visit a dashboard set up by the platform, though users may need to manually update their software with the new key before being able to stream again depending on what kind of software they use.

As far as what led to the hackers being able to steal the data, Twitch blamed an error in a “server configuration change that was subsequently accessed by a malicious third party,” confirming that the leak was not the work of a current employee who used internal tools. 

Will Users Go to Other Streaming Platforms?

While no major creators have said they are leaving Twitch for a different streaming platform because of the hack, many small users have either announced their intention to leave Twitch or have said they are considering such a move. 

It’s unclear if the leak, coupled with other ongoing Twitch controversies, will ultimately lead to a significant user exodus, but there’s little doubt that other platforms are ready and willing to leverage this hack in the hopes of attracting new users. 

At least one big-name streamer has already done as much, even if largely only presenting the idea as a playful jab rather than with serious intention. 

“Pretty crazy day today,” YouTube’s Valkyrae said on a stream Wednesday while referencing a tweet she wrote earlier the day.

“YouTube is looking to sign more streamers,” that tweet reads. 

I mean, they are! … No shade to Twitch… Ah! Well…” Valkyrae said on stream before interrupting herself to note that she was not being paid by YouTube to make her comments. 

See what others are saying: (Engadget) (BBC) (Gamerant)

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The Entirety of Twitch Has Been Leaked Online, Including How Much Top Creators Earn

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The data dump, which could be useful for some of Twitch’s biggest competitors, could signify one of the most encompassing platform leaks ever.


Massive Collection of Data Leaked 

Twitch’s full source code was uploaded to 4chan Wednesday morning after it was obtained by hackers.

Among the 125 GB of stolen data is information revealing that Amazon, which owns Twitch, has at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library. That library, codenamed Vapor, would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.

With Amazon being the all-encompassing giant that it is, it’s not too surprising that it would try to develop a Steam rival, but it’s eyecatching news nonetheless considering how much the release of Vapor could shake up the market.

The leaked data also showcased exactly how much Twitch has paid its creators, including the platform’s top accounts, such as the group CriticalRole, as well as steamers xQcOW, Tfue, Ludwig, Moistcr1tikal, Shroud, HasanAbi, Sykkuno, Pokimane, Ninja, and Amouranth.

These figures only represent payouts directly from Twitch. Each creator mentioned has made additional money through donations, sponsorships, and other off-platform ventures. Sill, the information could be massively useful for competitors like YouTube Gaming, which is shelling out big bucks to ink deals with creators. 

Data related to Twitch’s internal security tools, as well as code related to software development kits and its use of Amazon Web Services, was also released with the hack. In fact, so much data was made public that it could constitute one of the most encompassing platform dumps ever.

Creators Respond

Streamer CDawgVA, who has just under 500,000 subscribers on Twitch, tweeted about the severity of the data breach on Wednesday.

“I feel like calling what Twitch just experienced as “leak” is similar to me shitting myself in public and trying to call it a minor inconvenience,” he wrote. “It really doesn’t do the situation justice.”

Despite that, many of the platform’s top streamers have been quite casual about the situation.

“Hey, @twitch EXPLAIN?”xQc tweeted. Amouranth replied with a laughing emoji and the text, “This is our version of the Pandora papers.” 

Meanwhile, Pokimane tweeted, “at least people can’t over-exaggerate me ‘making millions a month off my viewers’ anymore.”

Others, such as Moistcr1tikal and HasanAbi argued that their Twitch earning are already public information given that they can be easily determined with simple calculations. 

Could More Data Come Out?

This may not be the end of the leak, which was labeled as “part one.” If true, there’s no reason to think that the leakers wouldn’t publish a part two. 

For example, they don’t seem to be too fond of Twitch and said they hope this data dump “foster[s] more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space.”

They added that the platform is a “disgusting toxic cesspool” and included the hashtag #DoBetterTwitch, which has been used in recent weeks to drive boycotts against the platform as smaller creators protest the ease at which trolls can use bots to spam their chats with racist, sexist, and homophobic messages.

Still, this leak does appear to lack one notable set of data: password and address information of Twitch users.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the leakers don’t have it. It could just mean they are only currently interested in sharing Twitch’s big secrets. 

Regardless, Twitch users and creators are being strongly urged to change their passwords as soon as possible and enable two-factor authentication.

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Video Games Chronicle) (Kotaku)

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