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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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Shane Dawson Says Hurtful Comments Are the Reason He Doesn’t Upload More

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  • Shane Dawson uploaded a video to his new YouTube channel dedicated to makeup videos and other “random” posts.
  • Shortly after his latest video went live, Dawson shared a comment someone left about his weight, saying that comments like these are what keep him from uploading more. 
  • After a flood of support, Dawson apologized for posting the screenshot and said he was taking a break from the internet.

Shane Glossin 

Long-time YouTuber Shane Dawson opened up on Wednesday about negative comments that make him hesitant to upload more content. 

As you probably already know, Dawson has a massively successful channel with over 23 million subscribers. And while fans love when he drops a new docuseries, he regularly hears complaints that he doesn’t upload enough. 

At some point during the process of his recent makeup collaboration with Jeffree Star Cosmetics, he was inspired to create a new channel, ShaneGlossin, which is named after a lip gloss included in his collection. Dawson does already have a second channel, Shane Dawson TV, though he hasn’t uploaded through that account in several years. 

In January, Dawson made his followers aware of the third account, calling it a low-pressure place to post makeup videos and other random content. 

Shane Tweets About Negative Comments

While his main channel has remained inactive over the past two months, Dawson has uploaded a few videos to his new channel, which currently sits at just over 3 million subscribers. On Wednesday, he uploaded a light-hearted video about his bedazzling obsession and shortly after the video went live, he shared a screenshot of a comment someone left under it.

The comment he shared read: “I love Shane but it’s a damn shame to watch him putting all this weight back on while everyone around him laughs and enables it.”

“Hey Shane why don’t u post more? Why don’t u upload more? Well… this 🙃,” Dawson wrote in the tweet that accompanied the screenshot. “You would think after 13 years on youtube comments wouldn’t get to me but damn… they still feel like the very first time haha.”

It’s no secret that for years, Dawson has been open about his weight insecurities, body image issues, and mental health struggles. After sharing the comment, fans quickly flooded him with messages of love and support. 

In a follow-up post, Dawson apologized for sharing the screenshot “Thanks for the nice tweets. I appreciate it a lot,” he wrote. “Sorry I got sensitive and posted that. I usually just ignore stuff but I’m just in a weird headspace lately :/ I think I’m gonna take a break from the internet for a bit. Thanks for being supportive and having my back.” 

While Dawson has been met with kindness from friends and fans, his post highlights the impact hate comments on social media can have on a person, no matter how big or small their following.

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (Pop Buzz) (Distractify)

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Ninja Sparks Conversations About Dealing With Gaming Losses

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  • Ninja tweeted that the phrase “it’s just a game” signals a weak mindset and was critical of players who are not angry after a loss. 
  • Some saw it as a message about improvement and taking the game seriously, while others used it as an opportunity to make jokes. 
  • But many said the comments send a bad message to his young audience and argued that you do not need to become angry to learn from a loss.

Ninja’s Message 

Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, one of the Internet’s biggest gamers, called out players who aren’t angry after a loss, sparking conversations about healthy ways to deal with failure. 

On Tuesday, Ninja tweeted, “The phrase ‘it’s just a game’ is such a weak mindset. You are ok with what happened, losing, imperfection of a craft. When you stop getting angry after losing, you’ve lost twice.”

“There’s always something to learn, and always room for improvement, never settle,” he added.

Reactions 

Many interpreted his tweet as an inspirational message about taking gaming seriously and agreed with him. 

Others used it as an opportunity to crack jokes about his intense remarks, including Lil Nas X and KSI.

But plenty of others thought his comments actually sent a dangerous message about dealing with and learning from failure. 

Gaming YouTuber Ohmwrecker, also known as MaskedGamer, disagreed with Ninja. In a response tweet, he said, “You don’t have to be a sore / salty loser and get all toxic to learn from a loss. I feel strongly losing helps you get better, especially in competitive games.  Anyone doing anything competitive should find value in a loss, but don’t need anger to benefit.”

He also said it actually was weak to suggest that managing your emotions is “losing twice” and accused Ninja of trying to justify his own internal challenges.

Thousands of other users chimed in expressing similar sentiments about managing emotions.

Ninja Says He Never Suggested Violent Rage Was Appropriate 

In a now-deleted tweet, another person called Ninja’s stance disappointing, “particularly from someone with an audience who will take this as ‘it’s ok to smash my keyboard/scream at my loved ones/punch a hole in the wall just because I lost a game.’”

@zhiana

Ninja responded to that user with, “Where in this tweet do I say punch a wall and smash a keyboard/rage? It’s the way you perceived the message 🤔”

When someone argued that Ninja was essentially telling kids to keep playing until they win otherwise they are failures, Ninja said, “‘There is always room for improvement, never settle’ is bad advice?”

The wave of backlash doesn’t seem to have changed Ninja’s mind about his long-running issue with people who say “its just a game.” One user even shared a clip of Ninja once commenting on this topic. “Imagine telling Lebron James, Tom Brady, that when they’re pissed off after losing a game that ‘its just a game,” he says in the clip. 

“Are you kidding me? You’re so stupid. It’s the competitive nature bro. It’s about respect bro. It’s about pride. It’s so much bigger than a fucking video game, and anyone that ever users the excuse ‘it’s just a game’ is a horrible human being and is lazy.” 

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (GameRevolution) (CCN)

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Jake Paul Criticized for Tweets About Anxiety

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  • YouTuber Jake Paul tweeted, “remember anxiety is created by you,” before advising his followers who might be struggling to remind themselves to be happy, relax their minds, and talk to a friend. 
  • Many found his comments insulting and dangerous, but others defended him for what they felt was a well-intentioned tweet with advice that some might find helpful.  
  • In a follow-up tweet, Paul opened up about his own anxiety issues and explained that he was trying to say there are ways to help cope, but he eventually deleted that post along with his initial tweet.

“Anxiety is Created by You”

Internet users are slamming YouTuber Jake Paul over a tweet about mental health that many found dangerous and insulting. 

On Monday the 23-year-old tweeted, “remember anxiety is created by you. sometimes you gotta let life play out and remind yourself to be happy & that the answers will come.”

“Chill your mind out,” he added before recommending that those struggling “go for a walk” or “talk to a friend.” 

@jakepaul

Backlash 

The tweet prompted thousands of responses from internet users. Many, of course, joked that Paul had “cured” their anxiety. 

Meanwhile, others fired back with more serious responses, including people who suffer from anxiety themselves. 

Fellow YouTubers like Sierra Schultzzie also chimed in writing, “This is actually really harmful. Anxiety can be incredibly physical as well as mental. Mental illness is not the fault of the sufferer.”

“Please delete this, you are doing actual harm to your followers who very well may need to be seeking professional help for their problems,” she added.

Colleen Ballinger tweeted, “telling people with anxiety to just stop having anxiety does not help them with their anxiety.” 

Andrea Russett wrote, “i can’t believe i’m paying $200 an hour for therapy when i could just remind myself to be happy.”

Paul Tries to Clarify 

After seeing some backlash, Paul went back to Twitter with a follow-up post to expand on what he meant. “What I meant is that your anxiety can build up if you let it,” he wrote, “it doesn’t just go away.”

“Mine never does but there’s days where it’s really bad and then there’s days when it’s not as bad so if anxiety starts to build up there ARE ways to help it chill out.” 

@jakepaul

In another tweet, he wrote: “everyone is clowning my tweet but not it’s spreading more awareness about anxiety which I didn’t even know was a thing till I was 18 but had it my whole life & never knew how to deal with it.”

“If u think u have it or wanna deal with it try reading this,” Paul added along with a link to an article about coping with anxiety from Healthline.com.

In response to those comments, more influencers explained what exactly their issues were with his initial post.

Taylor Nicole Dean said, “ur tweet spread bAD info about anxiety bc it can stop people from getting help when it’s needed thinking they can just walk it off and chill :/ it was also a lil insulting to those who deal with it.”

Sky Williams responded by telling Paul his tweet was dangerous to his young audience. “Anxiety is bad enough as it is, but now you’re trying to make it seem like its our fault that we feel anxious. it’s just so invalidating and shortsighted. You should delete it.”

Paul eventually deleted his initial post as well as his follow up tweet, but left up think link he shared about coping with anxiety. 

Some Defend Paul

Despite the widespread backlash against Paul, many felt that his tweet was well-intentioned and could be helpful advice for some. 

Others argued that he shouldn’t be attacked for trying to share advice that has helped him. Instead, those who took issue with his phrasing or message should use this as an opportunity to educate.

See what others are saying: (Mashable) (Newsweek) (BBC)

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