Pranksters go too far for laughs

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By Sara Seibel

Jesse M. Wellens (right) and girlfriend Jeana Smith, from a popular Youtube prank channel PrankvsPrank.
Jesse M. Wellens (right) and girlfriend Jeana Smith, from a popular Youtube prank channel PrankvsPrank.

YouTube is a social platform where millions of users come together to share their lives with people all over the world. Occasionally a youtuber will stumble upon viral prank videos. These videos are quickly gaining momentum while sparking conversation. However, some of these videos have crossed the line.

Cases of controversial pranks have become more prominent in recent years. Last year Roman Atwood, a popular YouTube prankster, pretended to accidentally throw his son off his balcony and captured his wife’s horrified reaction, titling the video “Killing My Own Kid PRANK!!”

The real concern associated with these videos is the victims. Brittney Smith, the mother of the child supposedly thrown off the balcony, nearly broke down after discovering it was just a dummy. She was furious and with good reason.

This August, Slaiman, from the channel Whealth by Slaiman, pulled a terrifying prank on his girlfriend, Kate, by pretending she had a stalker. His friend sent her creepy texts with an unknown number that led Kate to believe the stalker was outside her home before being told it was just a prank.

She went through emotional distress and was obviously alarmed. In some extreme cases, victims of public pranks have had heart attacks or become physically violent.

These jokesters have millions of subscribers. They may be doing these pranks just to gain publicity, but only they know their objectives behind the screen. A good chance is they don’t always mean well.

Even though a selection of the videos are controversial, innocent prank films are hilarious to watch and can easily capture attention. They provide creative content that draws viewers in. It’s also one of the perks of watching Youtube. Some even say youtubers like Roman Atwood and Slaiman redefine the boundaries of what is acceptable.

They are quite humorous, but is it purely for entertainment purposes? Youtubers have the option to earn a profit off of their views after they gain a certain number of subscribers. Don’t think they wouldn’t hesitate creating new content that’s likely to explode their notification bar, even if it may be controversial.

One of these “light-hearted incidents” cost a youtuber his reputation. The video featured Sam Pepper inappropriately touching women’s butts. He faced sexual harassment claims, suspension of his account, and lost many of his supporters. Pepper claimed the “prank” was merely an experiment.

Victims and even jokers themselves may be permanently scarred or physically injured from these “harmless” videos. Next time you click “like,” think twice about what the uploader will gain. It’s surprising how far they will go for a laugh and a dollar.