- YouTubers Lauren Love and her partner Joel Ashley are facing backlash for a recent prank video where Love dressed as a Walmart executive and told employees they were fired.
- The prank brought one employee to tears and she later spoke to a local news outlet saying the incident made her feel “powerless.”
- Walmart has also released a statement calling the prank “offensive.”
A YouTube couple is facing backlash for a video posted last month were one of the vloggers dresses up as a Walmart executive and pretends to fire store employees. YouTuber Lauren Love and her partner Joel Ashley have a channel with 1.3 million subscribers called “Joel and Lauren TV” where they post videos with titles like; “CAUGHT CHEATING PRANK ON GIRLFRIEND” and “SURPRISING MY BOYFRIEND WITH FAKE GUCCI PRANK.”
In a video posted last month called “CEO Firing People Prank,” Love goes into a Walmart in Richmond, Texas dressed in business attire. “So, I’m going to be going up to Walmart employees and basically observing them and then I’m going to be, like, ‘You’re fired. Let me see your badge,’” Love explains.
At one point Love fires an employee for being “in the wrong area.” He then takes off his vest and goes to hand it to her before she starts laughing and says “its just a prank.”
In another moment, Love fires a woman who responds by telling her she has been working for the store for six years. “I’ve been doing my job very well. I’ve been regarded as employee of the month,” the woman says as she fights back tears.
“I’m sorry, don’t cry. You’re okay. I’m sorry. You’re not fired. You’re doing a really good job,” Love says.
Some employees laugh off the prank once Love reveals that it is part of a YouTube video, but others, like the woman who cried, were far more impacted.
The woman who was brought to tears in the video was later identified as Maria Leones. Leones spoke to local news about the prank saying that it was especially not funny because her husband is recovering from triple bypass surgery and he uses her insurance.
“Really, I was really so crushed, I felt so little, I felt so powerless,” Leones told Click 2 Houston. Love told ABC 13 that she “felt so bad” and offered Leones fifty dollars, but Leones said that she has never received any money, nor does she want any.
A Walmart spokesperson has since commented on the situation calling the prank “offensive.” The company also said it was banning Love and her cameraperson from their stores.
“We’ve taken actions on behalf of our associates, including asking YouTube to remove the video and calling their attention to the bullying nature of this hoax,” the spokesperson said. “Our associates work hard every day to serve our customers. They do a fantastic job, deserve better than being subjected to such disrespect, and will continue to have our full support.”
Viewers have been spamming Love’s Instagram posts with comments about the firing prank and calling on brands to end their relationships with her. Neither Love or her partner have commented on the situation, but the video has been removed. Love has also disabled comments on some of her recent Instagram posts.
YouTube Will No Longer Count Ad Views for 24-Hour Music Records
- YouTube said it will no longer count views from paid advertising in its calculations for YouTube Music charts and 24-hour debut records.
- The move came after YouTube did not congratulate Indian rapper Badshah for seemingly breaking the single-day viewing record.
- Badshah admitted to paying for promotional ads and several media reports found that the practice was actually commonly used in the music industry to inflate views.
- Critics argued that the strategy created financial hurdles for new artists and raised questions about real popularity.
Ad Views No Longer Count
YouTube announced a new policy Friday that changes the way the platform counts views from purchased ads in its one-day record reports, a practice that has faced massive criticism over the last few months
“In an effort to provide more transparency to the industry and align with the policies of official charting companies such as Billboard and Nielsen, we are no longer counting paid advertising views on YouTube in the YouTube Music Charts calculation,” the company said in a blog post.
“Artists will now be ranked based on view counts from organic plays,” it continued.
The change extends only to YouTube’s music charts and the reporting of 24-hour views. Advertising money can still be put towards increasing views, and the public view counter will still reflect views that were paid for.
Before the changes, many artists and record labels would pay to run songs as YouTube ads, which boosted viewership and increased the artist’s odds of topping the YouTube Music charts.
However, YouTube executives might have decided to rethink how it records single-day views after it faced backlash over its former policy earlier this year.
YouTube faced intense scrutiny in July when Indian rapper Badshah racked up 75 million views in 24 hours on his music video for the song “Paagal.” The numbers seemingly broke the single-day viewing record set by K-pop superstars BTS in April, but YouTube did not acknowledge the achievement.
YouTube has a history of honoring artists for setting viewing records. It congratulated musicians like BTS, Blackpink, Taylor Swift, and Ariana Grande when they set records on the site, so naturally, many were confused by the company’s silence.
Badshah made no secret that his team spent heavily on promotional ads, which he admitted to on Instagram. He even suggested YouTube’s lack of praise presented a double standard between the way the site treats mainstream global superstars like Swift and Grande, and artists who aren’t as popular in the West.
As of now, it’s unclear how many paid-ad views make up the total views for Badshah’s video, which currently sits at over 161 million. YouTube’s spokesperson told Forbes that the video-sharing platform doesn’t “comment on specific view sources for videos.”
“We have always taken into account a number of factors, including the volume of paid advertising views on YouTube,” they added. “Based on our long-time criteria, Badshah did not qualify for our 24 hour debut records list.”
However, for many people, the interesting issue became the focus on the ad purchasing policy itself. The practice created doubts about the real popularity of the videos and brought new attention to industry marketing tactics. It also sparked conversations about how this tactic changes the landscape for new talent and creates a financial barrier for growth.
A report from Rolling Stone said that the practice was common in the Latin Music industry, reporting that companies like Sony Latin and Universal Latin have been known to shell out between $20,000 to $60,000 in the first 24 hours. In more extreme cases, the companies would spend as much as $100,000, which could result in more than 12 million additional views.
“There is definitely money being spent on views,” Tomas Cookman, founder and CEO of the independent Latin label Nacional told Rolling Stone. “Is it fair to pay to have all those perceived views on a video? Probably not. But any time there’s a system, there’s going to be some manipulation of that system. And whoever tells you there isn’t is probably doing it.”
The report also said the ad strategy was likely more utilized outside of the U.S. because of the cost difference. One Latin label employee estimated that $1,000 on ads might bring in 250,000 to 500,000 views from countries in Latin and South America, meanwhile, the cost per view in the U.S would be five to ten times as much. The cheapest views reportedly came from countries like Turkey, the Philippines, and India.
YouTube’s changes won’t necessarily mean fewer video ads since ads still allow for greater exposure. However, it could push the industry to think critically about how to place those ads for long-term success, rather than just spam users with them for the first 24 hours to inflate views and create a false sense of popularity.
PewDiePie Cancels 50K ADL Donation
- PewDiePie has decided not to gift $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, a group devoted to fighting anti-Semitism and hate, after his fans spread conspiracy theories about his previous plans to donate.
- Fans online believed he was blackmailed into writing a check to the group, as they associate it with YouTube’s initiative to take town hate speech content.
- After seeing the online backlash, PewDiePie said he chose the organization because he was advised to, and will instead donate the money to a group he feels excited about.
PewDiePie Calls Donation a “Mistake”
One day after pledging $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, a group devoted to fighting against anti-Semitism and bigotry, PewDiePie is taking back the offer.
Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, the most popular solo YouTube creator, uploaded a video to his channel on Thursday announcing his decision. When Kjellberg first said he would be donating to the ADL in a video celebrating 100 million subscribers, he was met with mixed reactions from his fans.
“I made the mistake of picking a charity that I was advised, instead of picking a charity that I’m personally passionate about,” Kjellberg said in the video. “Which is 100 percent my fault. Usually, when I pick a charity I take my time, I find a charity that I’m really excited about and actually passionate to donate to.”
The ADL’s Reputation Among Fans
The ADL’s mission is to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Its site also says it fights threats to democracy, including cyberhate, bullying, and biases in schools and in the criminal justice system, among other issues.
Many of Kjellberg’s fans and other YouTube users, however, attribute the ADL to content removal on the platform. YouTube has worked with the group on its initiative to take down content involving hate speech and online extremism. Some of these fans see it as censorship.
The ADL also applauded Disney for ending its relationship with Kjellberg in 2017 after the YouTuber uploaded content with anti-Semitic imagery. Kjellberg apologized for his video and took the content in question down.
Still, fans did not understand why he would make a donation to them after this incident. Many spread conspiracy theories on Twitter that he was being blackmailed into making the donation.
PewDiePie Seeks to Address Situations like Christchurch
At the time, Kjellberg said he “wanted to show publicly that I can move past it and move on.” In a statement on Twitter, he also added he wanted to distance himself from events like the shooting in Christchurch, where the alleged gunman said his name before killing 51 people and injuring 49 more. His statement has since been deleted, but he elaborated on this idea in Thursday’s video.
“To be fair, I saw it as an opportunity to put an end to these alt-right claims that have been thrown against me. It wasn’t to try to clear my name or save grace, if it was I would have done it years ago,” Kjellberg said.
“But after the Christchurch tragedy, I felt a responsibility to do something about it because it’s no longer just about me, it affected other people in a way and I’m not okay with that.”
He added that he has struggled with learning how to address this situation, and ultimately decided this was not the answer. He later said that he saw information surface about the group that did not “fit at all.” Instead, he will donate to a different charity.
“It really doesn’t feel genuine for me to proceed with the donation at this point and I, instead, I actually wanted to take my time, keep the intent that I had, but just doing it with the right charity and doing it properly,” he said.
The ADL gave a statement to Fox News on Thursday about the incident, saying they only knew as much as the public did.
“ADL learned about the potential donation from Felix Kjellberg when everyone else did: when he made the announcement on his channel earlier this week,” the statement read. “We have not received any communication from him beyond his public posts.”
David Dobrik and Other Stars Criticized for “Tone-Deaf” 9/11 Content
- YouTuber David Dobrik set his Tuesday vlog to private after facing backlash over a plane crash skit included in the video.
- Some viewers argued the skit was insensitive because it was posted the day before the 18th anniversary of 9/11.
- Meanwhile, others defended the creator by noting that the video did not make any jokes about terrorists or references to 9/11.
Dobrik’s Plane Crash Skit
YouTube vlogger David Dobrik quickly marked his Sept. 10 vlog as private after viewers criticized a plane crash skit it featured ahead of the 18th anniversary the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Dobrik, head of the popular group known as the Vlog Squad, titled his Tuesday vlog “Airplane Seat Was Not Attached Properly!” The video begins with two of his friends sitting in a row of seats, which then falls over. Another friend standing nearby then delivers the punchline: “Spirit airlines be like.”
Later, another skit in the plane shows YouTuber Jason Nash running into the main cabin dressed as the captain and joking about the plane crashing.
“It can’t be fixed, man,” Nash jokes. “This fucker’s going down… Hey, guys, it’s your captain speaking. I got some bad news and some good news. Bad news is, we’re crash landing. Good news is we’re going to be on the ground a lot sooner than expected.”
“We’re fucked, Scott!” Nash continues. “This shit’s going down, bro! I told you to bring more gas!”
Numerous copies of Dobrik’s video have circulated on the internet since the creator set it to private.
People quickly denounced the video as tone-deaf and called it insensitive to post just before 9/11.
“Usually I dont have comments about YouTube videos but @DavidDobrik should’ve really rethought posting a @jasonnash skit about a plane crashing on the eve of September 11th,” one person tweeted. “Very sensitive, emotional time for alot of people. #vlogsquad“
Others, however, jumped to Dobrik’s defense, noting that he was young when 9/11 occurred and that his videos are usually filmed in advance.
“Give DavidDobrik a break!” one Twitter user wrote. “1. he was like 5 when 9/11 happened. 2. The skit had nothing to do with a plane being taken over by terrorists.”
Besides marking the video private, neither Dobrik nor Nash have made any public statements about the skit. It’s also unknown whether Dobrik plans to keep the post on private, take it off private later, or delete it altogether.
Similar Backlash Over 9/11 Posts
Dobrik’s not the only star currently facing backlash for social media posts tied to 9/11. On Wednesday, a photo shared on reality star Kristin Cavallari’s Instagram showed her standing in the streets of New York. The post included a caption that read: “NYC for 24hrs. And what a time to be here..always remember.”
Cavallari was in New York for fashion week, but many accused her of posting a hollow reference to 9/11 while posing.
“Let me show off my body and then make a half ass remark about 911. WTF,” one person commented on her posted.
“I’m sorry that you had to choose such a solemn occasion to decide to make a fashion statement,” another person said.
Others also flooded the post’s comments, calling it disrespectful, insensitive, and in poor taste.
Cavallari then changed the caption to just “NYC for 24hrs.”
She later said she fired the staffer who wrote the caption, with reports saying the employee had changed an already-approved caption before posting.
Former Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham also caught heat for referring to 9/11 as “7-Eleven” in a YouTube video.
However, the comment appears to be a slip-up as in the same video, she correctly calls the day September 11th several times but once refers to the day as “7-Eleven,” apparently without noticing her mistake.
Abraham has not responded to similar criticism she’s faced.