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Cashing in on “TikTok terror”

Mizzy stealing a stranger’s dog

When I first came across the now-infamous “TikTok terror” Mizzy, says Jason Okundaye in The Guardian, his pranks were relatively harmless. He filmed himself breaking into Alton Towers and riding an electric bike through Sainsbury’s – annoying in a “kids these days!” way, but nothing sinister. Fast-forward a few months, and the 18-year-old has posted clips in which he temporarily abducts an old lady’s dog, breaks into a family’s home, and asks young women walking alone at night whether they “want to die”. Looking back, this escalation feels like a cautionary tale about social media – specifically, how it encourages online show-offs to churn out more and more outrageous material to keep users watching.

Mizzy understands that by tapping into the “distinctly British irritation” with the antisocial behaviour of teenagers, his audience numbers will rocket. He courts publicity by bragging that “British laws aren’t strong enough to contain him”, and suggesting that people only oppose his “pranks” because he’s black. Sure, this subjects him to the “fury of the nation”. But as Mizzy puts it: “Hate brings views.” And views bring money – Logan Paul, who shot to internet fame with similar viral pranks, is now worth around $250m, largely thanks to lucrative boxing matches which attract millions of viewers because of his online notoriety. With all the publicity Mizzy’s getting, he’ll likely join this “increasing pool” of influencers-turned-boxers, and soon you’ll be able to pay “good money to watch him get knocked out”. But here’s the catch-22: “So long as your eyes are on him, he’ll have won.”