On Monday, YouTuber and former NASA engineer Mark Rober sent a video that went viral, delivering over 46 million hits in just five days.
The video, "Package Teller Versus Glitter Bomb Trap", shows Rober Engineering a fake package to leave on the porch to bait would be the supply box bandits.
The unit was a masterpiece. In a matte plastic box, four cell phone cameras are placed under a mechanically rotating bowl filled with the finest glitter. When the package is jostled and moved outside a previously defined GPS radius, the cameras turn on and start recording. When the package thief lifts the five-sided jacket that covers the box, the bowl spins violently and throws glitter everywhere. As a bonus, a mechanically activated "spray spray" emits every thirty seconds after opening the package.
At the end of the video, Rober showed the recorded reactions from five alleged thieves who had taken the bait box from his porch. Rober even borrowed the package for an acquaintance, whose recording constituted two of the five filmed reactions.
On Thursday, Rober tweeted that the two reactions recorded by his acquaintance seemed to have been forged:
I removed 1.5 minutes of recording from the video since the original upload. I was presented with information that led me to doubt the truth of two of the five reactions in the video. These were reactions that were taken during a two week period while the unit was in a house two hours away from where I live. I put a feeling out for people who are willing to put a package on their porch and this person (who is a friend of a friend) volunteers to help. To compensate them for their time and willingness to risk putting a package on the porch, I offered financial compensation for any successful recovery of the package.
It looks (and I have since confirmed) in these two cases, "the thief" was actually acquainted with the person who helped me. From the pictures I received from the phones, which intentionally only picked up at certain times, this was not obvious to me. I have since removed these reactions from the original video …
I'm really sorry about this. Finally, I am responsible for the content that goes on my channel, and I should have done more here. I can guarantee that the reactions were real when the package was taken from my house. That said, I know my credibility is kind of a shot, but I urge you to look at the types of videos I've made over the last seven years. This is my first video with a kind of "prank" and, as I mentioned in the video, it is quite removed from my comfort zone. I should have done more. Full stop. I am especially gutted because so much thought, time, money and effort went into building the unit, and I hope this not only destroys the whole effort as "false."
It really works (like any other thing I've built on my channel), and we've made all the code and builds information publicly. Again I regret putting something on my channel that was misleading. It's all up to me, and I'll take all the necessary steps to make sure it doesn't happen again.
In addition to apologizing, Rober has actually removed the footage of the fake reactions and re-uploaded the video to his YouTube channel. Over the past seven years, Rober has gathered a subscriber base of over 5.5 million, entertaining and educated with fun and fascinating science and engineering videos.
The recently edited version of the video can be viewed here (recommended):