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Social Media Pranks Are Causing Chaos in Major Retailers

Could popular franchises become the next hotspot for a case of viral vandalism?

Certain franchises such as McDonald’s are no stranger to the wrath of a viral internet prank. In 2011, an Australian YouTuber started the trend of ‘cone-ing” in which prankers order an ice cream cone and bypass the cone only to sink their hands directly into the cold, melting mess—often to the shock of restaurant workers. According to Business Insider, however, the days of relatively innocent pranks such as cone-ing appear to be over. Gen Z is descending upon and releasing their unbridled adolescent wrath on major national retailers such as Walmart, Home Depot and Target for TikTok likes. 

In one viral video shared on Business Insider, young men are shown launching themselves Jackass-style into and off of store displays seemingly unchecked by employees or law enforcement. It is just one of many videos in a growing trend whereby social media influencers manufacture large-scale incidents within stores to garner new viewers and followers. Often, the end result or goal of these pranks is to get kicked out of the business.

Search YouTube or TikTok and you’ll find that franchises such as Planet Fitness, McDonald’s and trampoline parks are not safe from the scourge of pranks that range from laughable to genuinely terrifying. 

"The reason that I make such absurd video content such as getting kicked out of a store is purely for entertainment," YouTuber Zachary McDonald told Business Insider.  "Simply put, people online and my subscribers want to watch crazy outlandish stunts that they would not normally see or do and I provide that for them."

Fast food and retail workers are already often susceptible to maltreatment in the form of low wages, long hours and unhappy customers. Is causing even more strain for these oft overworked and underpaid employees worth 15 minutes of internet fame? This former server feels that most work is hard enough without the impetus of apocalyptic, teenage hormone-fueled destruction—but that’s just me. 

Read the full story on Business Insider here.