On the morning of March 15th, YouTube influencer Casey Neistat received a text from a co-worker: a stranger had shown up at 368, his co-working space for YouTube creators, and refused to leave. Cellphone footage captured from the incident shows vlogger Dan Mace and former Verge employee Sam Sheffer repeatedly asking the man to leave. “Ultimately, the police did have to come,” Neistat says in a vlog uploaded later. “We did file a proper police report here. The crime is criminal trespassing.”
Internet personalities have long had to balance being authentic with viewers and their own safety. In February 2018 alone, an armed gunman targeted social media stars Meg Turney and Gavin Free, and a fan broke into YouTuber Logan Paul’s home. Twitch streamers have had fans show up at their homes or even swat them live on air for years. On his channel, Neistat (who appeared on The Vergecast previously) expressed his frustrations with fans who cross boundaries. “Look, I don’t know if this guy wanted to hurt me, if he wanted a selfie with me,” he says. “I have no idea what he wanted. But when he was confronted by three people who clearly know me, he refused to leave. Showing up at my office — as public as I make the address — showing up here is just not appropriate.”
He encourages fans to say hi if they see him on the street, but there are limits to what’s appropriate. “This was kind of a scary situation, but just in general, please be respectful of my office space.”
While the location of Neistat’s office is not a secret, the space is in no way open to the public. It appears that the trespasser snuck in behind someone else entering the building. “We were able to find his social media handles and we have been contacted by people claiming to know him who say that he is an unstable individual,” Neistat tells The Verge via email. He’s dealt with overzealous fans before, including some who’ve made trips to his home in search of selfies.
“There was never an intention to have him arrested.”
While there’s nothing new about the risks associated with the spotlight, he says, it’s the climate itself that’s changed. “Events like the attack and shooting at YouTube a little over a month ago and the home invasion of Gavin Free and Meg Turney,” he says. “This against the backdrop of Parkland, Las Vegas’ Harvest Festival and the countless other atrocities involving disturbed individuals that have happened in recent years makes brushing off minor interactions like Tuesday a little harder.”
The Verge confirmed details of the trespassing with the NYPD. Neistat says he will not be pressing charges, and this trespassing incident has not changed how he views boundaries and safety regarding fans and his internet presence. “The NYPD was called as a precaution and to have record of what transpired should there be future incidents,” he says, “not to have him arrested. There was never an intention to have him arrested.”
Neistat hopes to eventually build out a storefront that will be open to the public in some way, with a security presence. “There is so much positivity that has come with my YouTube channel and its broad reach,” he says. “The ups vastly outweigh the downs. When sharing the way I share with the audience that YouTube enables the work will always reach some bad actors. Me being thoughtful and considerate about safety and privacy is a concern that comes with the territory.”