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A viral video featuring a booby-trapped HomePod box that pranked package thieves with a glitter bomb has been criticized for faking some of the reactions of the would-be "thieves," who were in fact acquaintances of friends of the video's creator.
The video, "Package Thief vs. Glitter Bomb Trap" by former NASA engineer Mark Rober, featured the creation of a device constructed inside a HomePod box that spread out glitter once the HomePod box was opened, with four smartphones used to film the event and subsequent reactions from all angles. Clips were shown of people claimed to be package thieves, opening the box and being covered with glitter, before throwing the contraption away.
At the time of publication, the video has garnered close to 42 million views since its original publication on December 17.
The popularity of the YouTube film prompted investigations by other Internet users, reports Buzzfeed, with online sleuths noticing a number of issues with the video relating to the thieves, who reportedly stole the trap package from doorsteps. One thief's vehicle was found to have a number of similar features to one parked near to the house of a friend of Rober, used to film some of the illicit acquisitions, suggesting it was acquired by someone who lived nearby.
Another person used Google Street View and Zillow to analyze the third thief's video from inside her home, and determined the side yard and outdoor area bore a striking resemblance to the home next door to the friend's house. Posted to Imgur, the thread of evidence led to others questioning Rober on some of his later edits to the published video, including deletion of small sections and blurring out details.
According to Rober, he offered to provide the box to people who were willing to place it on their doorstep, with the offer of financial compensation for successful recoveries of the package, and one "friend of a friend" volunteered to help. Rober has since confirmed that two of the five reactions used in the video were suspicious, and were subsequently removed, but insists the reactions for times when the box was stolen from his doorstep were genuine.
"I'm especially gutted because so much thought, time, money, and effort went into building the device and I hope this doesn't just taint the entire effort as 'fake,'" writes Rober in text placed underneath the video. "It genuinely works (like all the other things I've built on my channel) and we've made all the code and build info public."
Rober ends the statement by apologizing for "putting something up on my channel that was misleading," adding he will be taking "all necessary steps to make sure it won't happen again."
The YouTube channel primarily consists of science-related content, including a number of items where things have been built by the engineer. Some of the notable constructions include a playing card-firing gun, a moving dart board that can force players to hit the bullseye, and a giant lemon battery assembly.