A judge has punished two Florida teens for a prank they recorded and posted to the video-sharing web site YouTube by ordering them to post a video apology to the victim–a strategy that is sure to backfire, as it draws even more attention to the prank, Salon.com reports. Last summer, a YouTube-fueled prank spread through teen circles in the Northeast: Kids would pull up to a fast-food drive-through window and order drinks. When the cashier handed them over, the kids would throw the big-gulps back through the window, yell "Fire in the hole!" and speed off. Then they’d post video of the attack on YouTube, prompting others to do the same. But the videos weren’t especially popular, and they didn’t spread very far–at least, until a judge intervened. Last July, two teens pulled the prank at a Taco Ball near Orlando. The Taco Bell employee who’d been attacked tracked down the perps through MySpace and then contacted police. The boys were charged with battery and criminal mischief, and a judge ordered them to perform 100 hours of community service, pay Taco Bell a $30 cleaning fee, write letters of apology to the worker–and post a filmed apology on YouTube. Yet, the judge’s punishment alerted the media to the meme long after it had died out. The judge argued that the apology video would deter future attacks. But "that ignores how people consume videos online; you don’t watch a clip in isolation, you watch one video and then click on or search for stuff that’s related," writes Salon staff writer Farhad Manjoo. "It’s pretty much impossible to watch the apology video, hear the words ‘victimize restaurant employees by drenching them with ice-cold soda,’ and not wonder, What does that look like? And so you search for it, and you find the [fire-in-the-hole] videos, and maybe you pass them on to your friends … and voila, the viral prank is reborn!"
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