- 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)
Jake Paul Launches Anti-Bullying Charity
The charity, called Boxing Bullies, aims to use the sport to give kids confidence and courage.
Jake Paul Launches Boxing Bullies Foundation
YouTuber Jake Paul — best known as the platform’s boxer, wreckless partier, and general troublemaker — has seemingly launched a non-profit to combat bullying.
The charity is called Boxing Bullies. According to a mission statement posted on Instagram, it aims to “instill self confidence, leadership, and courage within the youth through the sport of boxing while using our platform, voice, and social media to fight back against bullying.”
If the notion of a Paul-founded anti-bullying charity called “Boxing Bullies” was not already begging to be compared to former First Lady Melania Trump’s “Best Best” initiative, maybe the group’s “Boxing Bullies Commandments” will help connect the dots. Those commandments use an acronym for the word “BOX” to spell out the charity’s golden rules.
“Be kind to everyone; Only defend, never initiate; X-out bullying.”
Paul Hopes To “Inspire” Kids To Stand Up For Themselves
Paul first said he was launching Boxing Bullies during a July 13 interview following a press conference for his upcoming fight against Tyron Woodley.
“I know who I am at the end of the day, which is a good person,” he told reporters. “I’m trying to change this sport, bring more eyeballs. I’m trying to support other fighters, increase fighter pay. I’m starting my charity, I’m launching that in 12 days here called Boxing Bullies and we’re helping to fight against cyberbullying.”
It has not been quite 12 days since the interview, so it’s likely that more information about the organization will be coming soon. Currently, the group has been the most active on Instagram, where it boasts a following of just around 1,200 followers. It has posted once to Twitter, where it has 32 followers; and has a TikTok account that has yet to publish any content. It also has a website, though there is not too much on it as of yet.
On its Instagram, one post introducing Paul as the founder claims the rowdy YouTuber started this charity because he has been on the receiving end of bullying.
“Having been a victim of bullying himself, Jake experienced firsthand the impact it has on a person’s life,” the post says. “Jake believes that this is a prevailing issue in society that isn’t talked about enough. Boxing gave Jake the confidence to not care about what others think and he wants to share the sport and the welfare it‘s had on him with as many kids as possible.”
It adds that he hopes his group can“inspire the next generation of kids to be leaders, be athletes, and to fight back against bullying.”
Paul Previously Accused of Being a Bully
While fighting against bullying is a noble cause, it is an ironic project for Paul to start, as he has faced no shortage of bullying accusations. While Paul previously sang about “stopping kids from getting bullied” in the lunchroom, some have alleged he himself was actually a classic high school bully who threw kids’ backpacks into garbage cans.
This behavior allegedly continued into his adulthood, as a New York Times report from earlier this year claimed he ran his Team 10 house with a culture of toxicity and bullying. Among other things, sources said he involved others in violent pranks, pressured people into doing dangerous stunts, and destroyed peoples’ personal property to make content.
See what others are saying: (Dexerto)
Director Defends Recreating Anthony Bourdain’s Voice With AI in New Documentary
The film’s director claims he received permission from Bourdain’s estate and literary agent, but on Thursday, Bourdain’s widow publicly denied ever giving that permission.
Bourdain’s Voice Recreated
“You are successful, and I am successful, and I’m wondering: Are you happy?” Anthony Bourdain says in a voiceover featured in “Roadrunnner,” a newly released documentary about the late chef — except Bourdain never actually said those words aloud.
Instead, it’s one of three lines in the film, which features frequent voiceovers from Bourdain, that were created through the use of artificial intelligence technology.
That said, the words are Bourdain’s own. In fact, they come from an email Bourdain reportedly wrote to a friend prior to his 2018 suicide. Nonetheless, many have now questioned whether recreating Bourdain’s voice was ethical, especially since documentaries are meant to reflect reality.
Director Defends Use of AI Voice
The film’s director, Academy Award winner Morgan Neville, has defended his use of the synthetic voice, telling Variety that he received permission from Bourdain’s estate and literary agent before inserting the lines into the film.
“There were a few sentences that Tony wrote that he never spoke aloud,” Neville said. “It was a modern storytelling technique that I used in a few places where I thought it was important to make Tony’s words come alive.”
Bourdain’s widow — Ottavia Bourdain, who is the executor of his estate — later denied Neville’s claim on Twitter, saying, “I certainly was NOT the one who said Tony would have been cool with that.”
In another interview with GQ, Neville described the process, saying the film’s creators “fed more than ten hours of Tony’s voice into an AI model.”
“The bigger the quantity, the better the result,” he added. “We worked with four companies before settling on the best.”
“If you watch the film,” Neville told The New Yorker, “you probably don’t know what the other lines are that were spoken by the AI, and you’re not going to know. We can have a documentary-ethics panel about it later.”
The Ethics Debate Isn’t Being Tabled
But many want to have that discussion now.
Boston-based film critic Sean Burns, who gave the film a rare negative review, later criticized it again for its unannounced use of AI, saying he wasn’t aware that Bourdain’s voice had been recreated until after he watched the documentary.
Meanwhile, The New Yorker’s Helen Rosner wrote that the “seamlessness of the effect is eerie.”
“If it had been a human voice double I think the reaction would be “huh, ok,” but there’s something truly unsettling about the idea of it coming from a computer,” Rosner later tweeted.
Online, many others have criticized the film’s use of AI, with some labeling it as a “deepfake.”
Others have offered more mixed criticism, saying that while the documentary highlights the need for posthumous AI use to be disclosed, it should not be ruled out altogether.
“In a world where the living could consent to using AI to reproduce their voices posthumously, and where people were made aware that such a technology was being used, up front and in advance, one could envision that this kind of application might serve useful documentary purposes,” David Leslie, ethics lead at the Alan Turing Institute, told the BBC.
Celebrities Recreated After Death
The posthumous use of celebrity likeness in media is not a new debate. In 2012, a hologram of Tupac took the stage 15 years after his death. In 2014, the Billboard Music Awards brought a hologram of Michael Jackson onstage five years after his death. Meanwhile, the Star Wars franchise digitally recreated actor Peter Cushing in 2016’s “Rogue One,” and unused footage of actress Carrie Fisher was later translated into “The Rise of Skywalker,” though a digital version of Fisher was never used.
In recent years, it has become almost standard for filmmakers to say that they will not create digital versions of characters whose actors die unexpectedly. For example, several months after Chadwick Boseman’s death last year, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” executive producer Victoria Alonso confirmed Boseman would not be digitally recreated for his iconic role as King T’Challa.
See what others are saying: (BBC) (Yahoo! News) (Variety)
Doctors Want You to Know: Whatever You Do, Don’t Stick Garlic up Your Nose to Try and Relieve Congestion
They warn the new TikTok trend could cause even worse problems, such as irritation and swelling.
TikTok Garlic Nose Trend
In a viral trend that feels eerily similar to the Nutmeg Challenge, doctors are now warning people against participating in a TikTok trend that has users shoving whole cloves of garlic up their noses for 20 to 30 minutes at a time.
In the videos, creators claim that garlic can relieve sinus congestion, and once they pull the cloves out of their nostrils, an excessive amount of snot comes flowing out of their noses.
“Since tik tok took it down the first time. THIS IS NOT DANGEROUS. The garlic cleans out your sinuses,” TikTok user hwannah5 said in a June 25 post.
Doctors are now warning the opposite, saying that there’s no medical proof garlic acts as a decongestant.
As Dr. Richard Wender of the University of Pennsylvania told Insider, “Evidence is important, and it would be wrong to say that we’ve done extensive research about garlic in noses.”
“But in general, garlic itself and the chemicals of garlic don’t interact much with human tissue,” he added.
Wender went on to explain that stuffing one’s nose with foreign objects can actually cause irritation and swelling, rather than relief.
“Yes, it’s true that garlic has some antibacterial properties, which means it may be useful to treat a variety of common ailments,” Dr. Deborah Lee from Dr. Fox Online Pharmacy told Delish. “In one study, those who took garlic supplements for three months had less colds than those who did not. But this is not the same as actively treating a stuffy nose or blocked sinuses. Garlic is not a decongestant, and in fact, may just irritate the lining of the nose and airways and make symptoms worse.”
As far as what’s causing streams of snot to pour out of people’s noses after inserting their garlic plugs, Wender said that may be occurring because the nose produces mucus when irritated. On top of that, the cloves can also block already-existing mucus from flowing.
Instead, doctors recommend using already-known solutions if you’re feeling congested, such as vapor rubs, antihistamines, over-the-counter saline sprays, and neti pots.
TikTok user hwannah5 later responded to a doctor’s explanation that the clove blocks create rather than clear mucus, noting that others shouldn’t repeatedly try the blocks. Doctors contend that the trend should not be done at all.