Social media pranksters that go too far

Bloggers, vloggers, influencers and YouTube stars have a responsibility to their audience. How can you redeem a reputation if and when things go too far?

Citizen journalism has no regulation. What happens when the boundaries are pushed and thing get out of hand?

Daniel Jarvis from the Troll Station YouTube channel found out recently when he got jailed for staging a fake robbery at London’s National Portrait Gallery in 2015.

Watch the video and read the article here:

Jailed YouTuber: ‘Not proud’ of prank 
By Calum MacDonald for the BBC

His prank went wrong when they underestimated the volume of the alarm and widespread panic spread throughout the visitors. In a time when terrorist attacks are a real threat this was a very poorly thought out prank.

My interest in it is not whether he was right or wrong in carrying out the prank but how it’s been dealt with afterwards.

A good PR would have told him to be honest, to apologise immediately and come up with a strategy for relaying that through the media. But, in the interview with Five Live he doesn’t directly apologise. In fact it all seems like a bit of a fumble and he seems more concerned that he’s no longer making money out of creating videos. He’s either had no media training or very little as he doesn’t seem to know what to say in response to the journalist.

I think people forget the responsibility they have when running a social media platform. It is often seen as light hearted but in fact it’s a very powerful tool and extremely dangerous when misused. I can’t imagine how scared the people experiencing the fake robbery were not aware it was a prank.

This is exactly when I think PR is underestimated. How to handle situations like this is crucial and demands expert advice as often it can make the difference to how you are seen after an event like that. Whether you have a career left to salvage depends on what you say and how you act post event.

He needed a good media coach to make it very clear just how sorry he was to stand any chance of rescuing his reputation. Instead I think his interview with Five Live made his situation worse. He’s going to have a really hard time coming back from this.

The debate on whether he should recover from this or not isn’t what I’m disputing here – I think his stunt was a huge mistake, poorly judged and that he shouldn’t have done it. But, from a PR perspective he also could have handled the aftermath more carefully.

More and more people are pushing the boundaries of safety in order to achieve amazing video content or images to rack up likes, engagement and a following on social media. No one should risk their safety just to further their social platforms.

Other pranksters have recently been in the news, like the woman who shot her boyfriend for a YouTube stunt. Her boyfriend died of his injuries and she went to jail. Their lives were torn apart in a split second, nothing can be worth that.

Incidents are on the increase, there’s been a rise in selfie deaths with one 12 year old Russian girl who has died from falling from a building and another woman who died falling from a bridge in California. Both were trying to obtain selfies with a view to put on their social media profiles.

How far would you go? Would you risk your safety to generate social media content?

Have you leant just that little bit further to get an amazing selfie to put on social media? Share with me your thoughts on this. What do you consider as ‘too far’?

Do you think the Daniel Jarvis was right or wrong to carry out a prank of that nature? I’d love to know your thoughts on this controversial topic.

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