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How (not) to make money on YouTube: Risking danger for views
Since the era of Evel Knievel, daredevils and stuntmen have made a career by putting their lives on the line - all to attract a crowd of viewers. Putting together these events used to mean hiring a producer, staffing a crew of health professionals, selling tickets and organizing something that pushed some limits, but was ethical to a point.
Nowadays, much less is required to attract millions of viewers and make some money doing it. YouTube has created a culture of viewers that are willing to tune in by the millions remotely for pranks that many consider asinine and - in some situations - incredibly dangerous.
Namely, the video sharing site has hosted hours of content featuring videos of "pranks gone wrong" where crews of hidden camera performers get into situations that almost instantly turn violent with their unsuspecting victims. Despite the controversy - and sometimes bloodshed - these performers continue to indulge in the same pranks, finding the same results and posting the videos online for more views.
Before continuing, here's a very clear disclaimer. Don't put yourself in danger for YouTube views. Moreover, don't play unethical pranks on people to capitalize on their concern and make a quick buck in the process.
These YouTube "prank" compilations feature serial pranksters being knocked unconscious, beaten, stuck up with guns and threatened with knives in some situations as a result of their hidden camera stunts. At the end of some of the videos, bloodied YouTube hopefuls request subscribers or suggest other videos they've created featuring the same sort of situations.
Many of the "prank gone wrong" videos have millions of views. With a flurry of advertisements to match, it would seem that some of these video creators are organizing the same type of stunts to deliberately get in harm's way for the sake of a view count and ad revenue.
One video features a performer pretending to drug a woman's water bottle in a crowded public area. When confronted violently by spectators, the hidden camera actor begins shouting "it's a prank" before being pummeled by a group.
Another video shows several performers offering to sell crowds of people "guns." The pranksters - often to calm their aggressors - show that they're carrying water guns. One performer is punched in the face, another is shoved against a wall and threatened and a man pulls a real gun on the first performer who was previously punched in the face - all during separate occasions.
Money over ethics
There are hundreds of more honorable YouTube stars out there. Some focus on harmless comedy routines, others create valuable how-to videos to teach their audience new skills. Sadly, some have resorted to earning fame and fortune by putting bystanders in seemingly serious and threatening situations.
The bottom line: when you're vying to earn money online, don't toss your dignity to the wayside. In some situations, you may only sacrifice your character. In other situations, you may need to prepare for hospital bills.
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