Busted! YouTube users often their own worst enemies

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By Jonathan Anker


(CNN) — We’re thinking it’s about time we tweak an old axiom to make it a bit more current. How does this sound?

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to upload a video to YouTube and remove all doubt.”

Works for us. And it neatly fits a growing number of instances of people compounding their spectacularly unwise choices by filming and then frequently sharing video evidence of them online.

The latest example surfaced Friday and shows three way-too-giddy Boy Scout leaders toppling a rock formation which had stood for millions of years in Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park. They say the delicate structure posed a threat to visitors, but park officials see it differently.

One of the men recorded the incident, (click here for the video) which was accompanied by hysterical laughter, a super awkward high-five and really, really serious whoops and grunts of “yeah!” The video’s off-camera narrator is heard declaring that, “Some little kid was about ready to walk down here and DIE (emphasis ours) and Glenn saved his life by getting the boulder out of the way.”

Well, no good deed goes unpunished right? A local TV station reports the Emery County district attorney could file felony charges.

If so, the leaders wouldn’t be the first auteurs to be undone by an upload. In fact, the last 12 months alone have produced countless instances, including the 19-year-old Nebraska car thief and bank robber who was so impressed with herself that she posted a YouTube video to tell the world about her heist.

Hannah Sabata is seen waving the more than $6,000 she made off with and using handwritten notes to boast, “Of course I already took the license plates off and threw them out” in regard to the stolen car. Sabata was arrested last November and sentenced in June to 10-20 years behind bars.

A foolishly flagrant trail of online evidence was also key in leading the New York Police Department to what they described as the largest gun bust in the city’s history. A 26-year-old aspiring rapper known as Neno Best detailed his gun packaging on YouTube and Instagram and police credit his social accounts with helping them break up the alleged gun-smuggling ring and reeling in its accused leader, Omole Adedji.

Lots of productive Internet surfing is apparently going on in the NYPD, as the force also nailed a guy who raced a lap around all of Manhattan in just 24 minutes and uploaded the whole speed-freak 4 a.m. journey to YouTube. Making the bust just a little more sweet, the user known as “AfroDuck” had replied to a commenter that he wasn’t taking extra steps to remain anonymous because there was no way the police would ever be able to identify him.

It should be pointed out, those odds decrease dramatically when you share a video of your ride with the entire world.

Of course, a video doesn’t have to contain allegedly illegal actions for its public distribution to be a very, very bad idea.

Take, for instance, a video of a field guide in South Africa running at and taunting a frightened elephant while his wildly amused pals cheer and laugh off-camera. The guide lost his job after the clip received international condemnation.

And what is it with taunting wild animals? A YouTube user named “nathan bverbeez” came this close to getting what he probably deserved after shouting at a herd of cows and bulls.

The tough guy who we meet when the video begins, shouting “Got a problem? Come at me!” and growling at the animals, soon melts into a panicked, running-for-his-life mass of regret when a young bull does what young bulls do and chases him across a field.

So, in both videos, no criminal activity, but definitely candidates for criminal stupidity.

In fact, that description could be a pretty big tent beneath which we could stack all instances of restaurant employees doing unmentionable things to people’s food (and uploading it), folks attempting horribly ill-conceived stunts then painfully failing (and uploading it) and every, single video fad from “gallon smashing” to the cinnamon challenge, which, you should know, is just the worst.

Several gallon smashers, by the way, have been arrested and charged after filming themselves joyfully destroying containers of milk and juice inside supermarkets — and uploading it.

But at least they only destroyed a few gallons of drinks; not, say, an immaculate rock formation that dates back to the Jurassic period. Because that would be pretty bad.

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