News and Commentary

TikToker’s Cereal Prank On New York City Subway Leads To Major Backlash, Apology
In this photo illustration the Chinese video-sharing social networking service company TikTok logo seen displayed on a smartphone with a computer model of the COVID-19 coronavirus on the background.
Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

On Tuesday, TikToker fckjoshy, who has a following of 3.3 million, released a video in which he dumps a multi-gallon container of cereal and milk onto the floor of a subway car in New York City.

People in the car lift their feet, and one man gets up and moves away from the splashy mess.

The video’s creator, Josh Popkin, narrates the prank:

I accidentally dropped a whole tub of cereal on the subway today. 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. When I was like, “Can someone help?” surprisingly no one offered, so I had to put all the soggy cereal back in by myself. Someone was like, “I cannot believe this is happening.” I was like, “I can’t believe this is happening again.”

The video was viewed at least 3.3 million times on TikTok before disappearing, according to CNN, and one copy on Twitter has been viewed 6.6 million times as of publication.

Once on Twitter, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) retweeted it with the caption: “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.”

Following the tweet from the MTA, many users expressed anger at Popkin.

Popkin later uploaded an apology video to YouTube, which has garnered more than 51,000 views.

In the description portion below the video, it reads: “I messed up. I mean I REALLY messed up. This is my apology. All Adsense money from this video will be donated to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.”

In the video, Popkin apologizes, stating in part:

Everyone who’s watching this video, dislike right now. I’m an idiot. I’m such a f****** idiot. I would like to apologize to the MTA, the essential workers, everyone that I have affected. Trust me, I am experiencing the consequences of all of my actions right now. First of all, I’m not funny. Usually, I try to be funny and I’m not funny. I honestly thought it was going to be something that would make people laugh and bring joy in this serious time. Obviously, I was way off the mark. I f***** up. I went over the line. I made a mistake, and the fact that I even thought that that was okay is ridiculous.

Popkin spends the rest of the video reading “fifty of the most hateful comments” he received as a result of the prank.

The MTA issued a tweet on Friday stating that they had received Popkin’s apology, and “MTA police have referred this matter to the detective squad.” The tweet also suggested that TikTok “should ban this user and prohibit reckless stunts like this on trains and buses.”

Twitter user @jeremysallen said that Popkin’s “apology should be to clean the train.”

User @zbgale added: “Every. Freaking. Train. And station.”

Other users had similar ideas. @This_Is_Genesis wrote: “No jail time for him, give him community service, have him help the essential MTA workers that spend all night cleaning the trains to ensure proper safety for other essential workers. Have him clean the trains as punishment for 1 year!!!!”

Other users suggested that Popkin be banned from TikTok, and even fined.

According to CNN, “an NYPD spokeswoman [said] … that the department is looking into the matter.”

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