Another week, another social media prank gone wrong. This time, both social media users and New York City officials are putting a TikTok star on blast for his recent messy prank on a subway car in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Josh Popkin, a 23-year-old internet prankster, uploaded two videos to TikTok detailing the controversial subway cereal prank on Tuesday.
The TikTok star has more than 3.3 million followers and his two subway prank videos gained over 3 million views each.
In the first video, Popkin fills a plastic tub with Fruity Pebbles and milk and pretends to accidentaly spill the contents all over a subway car, which is crowded with people wearing face masks.
A new low: Pulling a prank on essential workers in the middle of a global pandemic. And making essential workers clean up your mess. Despicable. https://t.co/hMu8g5cJY9— MTA. Stay Home. Stop the Spread. (@MTA) May 13, 2020
“I accidentally dropped a whole tub of cereal on the subway today,” Popkin narrates as passengers run away from the mess. “I was like, oh my god, this is the worst day of my life! Not my Fruity Pebbles! Everyone started moving away and filming me.”
To conclude the video, he complains that no one helped him clean the mess. He scoops up some of the mess, but leaves most of it in the subway car as he walks away.
Once uploaded, social media users across all platforms had plenty of criticism. Many pointed out the prank created even more unnecessary work for cleaning staff who are already at risk and working overtime. They also called for investigations and charges against Popkin.
The New York Daily News reported that police were investigating the incident. And on Thursday, the MTA, which runs the city’s subways, condemned the prank on their Twitter.
“A new low: Pulling a prank on essential workers in the middle of a global pandemic,” they wrote in a tweet that has more than 100,000 likes. “And making essential workers clean up your mess. Despicable.”
https://t.co/5lyt3OTKvE he also doesn’t know how to wear a mask apparently. @NYCMayor @NYCTSubway @NYCMayorsOffice @nyc311 really disrespectful to put the rest of the city at risk and make essential jobs even harder at a time where we all need to be working together. pic.twitter.com/P8AduO6Ior— sami (@samitakesphotos) May 14, 2020
It’s not the first time Popkin tried to use the coronavirus pandemic for TikTok content. He previously recorded a prank harassing essential workers in stores and restaurants by approaching them with a mask that left his mouth fully exposed. He has since deleted the controversial prank videos.