- 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!”
“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!”
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.
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.”
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)
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Says Trump Ban Was the “Right Decision” But Sets “Dangerous” Precedent
- While defending Twitter’s decision to permanently ban President Donald Trump, CEO Jack Dorsey noted the “dangerous” precedent such a move set.
- “Having to take these actions fragment the public conversation,” Dorsey said in a lengthy Twitter thread on Wednesday. “They divide us. They limit the potential for clarification, redemption, and learning.”
- Dorsey’s message came the same day Twitter fully reinstated Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-Co.) account, hours after locking it for violating Twitter rules. A Twitter spokesperson later described the lock as an “incorrect enforcement action.”
Dorsey Describes Trump Ban as a Double-Edged Sword
In a lengthy Twitter thread published Wednesday, CEO Jack Dorsey defended his platform’s decision to permanently ban President Donald Trump, while also noting the “dangerous” precedent such a unilateral move sets.
Twitter made the decision to ban Trump on Jan. 8, two days after pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol complex in an assault that left multiple dead.
“I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban [Trump] from Twitter, or how we got here,” Dorsey said in the first of 13 tweets.
Nonetheless, Dorsey described Trump’s ban as “the right decision for Twitter.”
“Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all,” he added.
“That said, having to ban an account has real and significant ramifications,” Dorsey continued.
“[It] sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation.”
Dorsey described most bans as a failure of Twitter to “promote healthy conversation,” though he noted that exceptions to such a mindset also exist. Among other failures, Dorsey said extreme actions like a ban can “fragment public conversation,” divide people, and limit “clarification, redemption, and learning.”
Dorsey: Trump Bans Were Not Coordinated
Dorsey continued his thread by addressing claims and criticism that Trump’s ban on Twitter violated free speech.
“A company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same,” he said.
Indeed, multiple legal experts have stated that Trump’s ban on social media does not amount to First Amendment violations, as the First Amendment only addresses government censorship.
“If folks do not agree with our rules and enforcement, they can simply go to another internet service,” Dorsey added. However, Dorsey noted that such a concept has been challenged over the past week.
This moment in time might call for this dynamic, but over the long term it will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet. A company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same.— jack (@jack) January 14, 2021
Trump has now been banned or suspended from a number of platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. On Wednesday, Snapchat announced plans to terminate Trump’s account in the “interest of public safety.” Previously, Snapchat had only suspended his account, but as of Jan. 20, it will be permanently banned.
Addressing criticism of the swift bans handed down by these platforms in the wake of the Capitol attack, Dorsey said he doesn’t believe Trump’s bans on social media were coordinated.
“More likely: companies came to their own conclusions or were emboldened by the actions of others,” he said.
Twitter Reverses Course of Locking Rep. Lauren Boebert’s Account
Dorsey’s thread regarding the fragile nature of regulating users’ privileges on the platform seemed to play out earlier the same day.
On Wednesday, newly-elected Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Co.) posted a screenshot to Instagram showing that her Twitter account had been locked for six days. The screenshot stated that she had violated Twitter’s rules and would be unable to tweet, retweet, or like until her account was unlocked.
Hours later, Twitter reversed course and fully reinstated her account.
“In this instance, our teams took the incorrect enforcement action. The Tweet in question is now labeled in accordance with our Civic Integrity Policy. The Tweet will not be required to be removed and the account will not be temporarily locked,” a spokesperson for the platform told Insider.
It is unknown what tweet caused that initial ban, as Twitter refused to say.
The latest tweet from Boebert’s account to be tagged with a fact check warning is from Sunday. In that tweet, she baselessly and falsely accuses the DNC of rigging the 2020 Election, a claim that largely inspired the Capitol attacks.
See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (CNN) (Associated Press)
Uber and Lyft Drivers Sue To Overturn California’s Prop 22
- A group of Uber and Lyft drivers filed a lawsuit Tuesday against California’s controversial Prop 22, a ballot measure that was approved by nearly 59% of state voters in the 2020 election.
- While Prop 22 does promise drivers wage guarantees and health insurance stipends, it also eliminated some protections as well as benefits like sick pay and workers’ compensation.
- In their lawsuit, the drivers argue that Prop 22 “illegally” prevents them from being able to access the state’s workers’ compensation program.
What’s in the Lawsuit?
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, a group of Uber and Lyft drivers asked California’s Supreme Court to overturn the state’s controversial Prop 22 ballot measure.
The drivers behind the lawsuit, along with Service Employees International Union, allege that Prop 22 “illegally” bars them from being able to participate in the state’s workers’ compensation program.
Additionally, they argue that the measure violates California’s constitution by“stripping” the state legislature of its ability to protect who unionize.
“Every day, rideshare drivers like me struggle to make ends meet because companies like Uber and Lyft prioritize corporate profits over our wellbeing,” Plaintiff Saori Okawa said in a statement.
Conversely, Uber driver and Prop 22 activist Jim Pyatt denounced the lawsuit, saying,“Voters across the political spectrum spoke loud and clear, passing Prop 22 in a landslide. Meritless lawsuits that seek to undermine the clear democratic will of the people do not stand up to scrutiny in the courts.”
California ballot measures have been occasionally repealed in the past; however, most of the time, they’ve only been repealed following subsequent ballot measures. If this lawsuit fails, such an initiative would likely be the last option for overturning Prop 22.
What is Prop 22?
Prop 22, which was approved by 59% of state voters in the 2020 Election, exempts app-based transportation and delivery companies from having to classify their drivers as employees. Rather, those drivers are listed as “independent contractors,” also known as gig workers.
Notably, Prop 22 was supported by major industry players like DoorDash, Uber, Lyft, and Instacart, which launched a massive $200 million lobbying and advertising campaign.
While those companies did promise wage guarantees and health insurance stipends for drivers, Prop 22 also eliminated a number of protections and benefits drivers would have seen under an “employee” status, including sick pay and workers’ compensation.
Because of that, many opponents have argued that the measure incentivizes companies to lay off their employees in favor of cheaper labor options.
Last week, it was reported that grocery stores like Albertsons, Vons, and Pavilions began laying off their delivery workers in favor of switching to ”third-party logistics providers.” According to Albertson’s, unionized delivery workers were not included in the layoffs.
In recent coverage from KPBS, one San Diego Vons delivery worker detailed a situation in which he and delivery workers were called into a meeting with management.
“I thought they were going to give us a bonus or a raise or something like that,” he said.
Ultimately, that employee was told he would be losing his job in late February, even though he had been with the company for two-and-a-half years.
“I didn’t want to tell them,” the employee said of his parents, one of whom is disabled. “I’m the breadwinner for the family.”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (The Washington Post) (CNN)
Daniel Silva Blames Cory La Barrie for His Own Death in New Legal Filing
- Popular Tattoo artist Daniel Silva said the death of YouTuber Cory La Barrie was due to La Barrie’s “own negligence,” in response to a wrongful death lawsuit from his family.
- La Barrie died last May after Silva lost control of the sports car they were in, crashing into a street sign and tree.
- La Barrie’s family has accused Silva of negligence, saying his excessive speeding caused the crash. They also claim he was under the influence, though he was never formally charged with a DUI.
- According to TMZ, Silva filed documents saying La Barrie “assumed the risk of death when he jumped into Daniel’s car that fateful night back in May.”
Corey La Barrie’s Death
Popular tattoo artist Daniel Silva has blamed YouTuber Corey La Barrie for his own death in response to a wrongful death lawsuit from La Barrie’s family, according to TMZ.
The tabloid says he filed legal documents saying, “the car crash that led to Corey’s death was due to his own negligence, and he assumed the risk of death when he jumped into Daniel’s car that fateful night back in May.”
La Barrie died on May 10, his 25th birthday, after Silva was speeding and lost control of the sports car they were in, crashing into a street sign and tree.
Police say Silva tried to leave the scene but was stopped by witnesses. He was later arrested and charged with murder. Silva eventually reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead no contest to vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
In August, Silva was sentenced to 364 days in jail, with credit for 216 days served because of California sentencing guidelines, even though it had only been 108 days since the crash at the time.
He also earned five years of probation, 250 hours of community service, and a suspended prison sentence of four years, which would be imposed if he violates the terms of his probation.
Wrongful Death Suit
Silva still faces the family’s lawsuit, which they filed the same month their son died.
In it, La Barrie’s family has accused Silva of negligence, saying his excessive speeding caused the crash. They also claim he was driving under the influence.
It’s worth noting that people close to Silva have disputed that claim and he was never charged with a DUI. However, the first police statement about the crash labeled it a “DUI Fatal Traffic Collision.” Witnesses have said the two were partying earlier that night, though