Mike and Heather Martin of Baltimore ran a successful YouTube channel. The uniqueness of their content was ‘prank videos’ on their own children. Pranks included encouraging kids to hit each other, screaming on them, using expletives for and in front of them. The netizens deemed their behavior as child abuse and reported them to authorities. As a result, the Martins have lost custody of two of their youngest children.
The YouTube channel named DaddyOFive had more than 750,000 subscribers and uploaded at least one video everyday. Most of the “pranks” involved the older boys or the parents bullying Emma (12) or Cody (9). The YouTube community grew angry with every video, leaving comments to show their displeasure. They called the parents everything from evil, cruel and diabolical to abusers. Among the commenters was Cody and Emma’s biological mother Rose Hall.
Other YouTubers including Philip DeFranco posted videos about what’s wrong with the Martins’ videos. The couple defended themselves saying the pranks were staged and the children knew about them beforehand. “The characters you see on our YouTube channel is not a reflection of who we are. It’s a character, it was a show. A bad show, but it was a show,” Heather has said on Good Morning America during the height of the controversy.
However, netizens didn’t believe them. Support started to pour in for Hall. From an online fundraiser to free legal counseling, she got everything required to gain an emergency custody of her kids last Friday. Later, she even posted a YouTube video to thank all those who helped her. She also gave an update about the kids. “Emma and Cody are with me, I have emergency custody – they’re doing good. They’re getting back to their playful selves,” she said in it.