Connect with us

Industry

YouTuber ProJared Accused of Soliciting Explicit Photos From Underage Fans

Published

on

  • Multiple people have accused YouTuber Jared “ProJared” Knabenbauer of sending and requesting sexually explicit pictures from fans, including at least two people who were underage at the time.
  • The accusations surfaced after Knabenbauer’s wife, Heidi O’Ferrall, said that he had been abusive and said that he had been “soliciting nudes from his fans for years.”
  • The creator collective Knabenbauer belonged to, NormalBoots, said in a statement that they were first informed of the allegations on April 4, which prompted them to start an investigation and eventually cut ties with Knabenbauer.
  • Knabenbauer has lost more than 200,000 subscribers since the allegations were made public.

ProJared Allegations

Popular YouTube gamer Jared “ProJared” Knabenbauer has been accused of sending and soliciting sexually explicit pictures from his fans, including at least two individuals who were underage.

The allegations first came to light on Wednesday when Knabenbauer, who had over one million YouTube subscribers, announced in a statement on Twitter that he was divorcing his wife, cosplayer Heidi O’Ferrall.

O’Ferrall responded in a series of tweets accusing Knabenbauer of cheating on her and repeatedly lying about it. She claimed that he “gaslit” her for months and acted abusively.

In a separate post, O’Ferrall also said that Knabenbauer “has been soliciting nudes from his fans for years.”

“I used to think that among consenting adults, it was fine,” she wrote on Twitter. “Now I see it as an abuse of power for him to intentionally manipulate anyone to show him their naked body on the basis that he’s a popular internet man.”

Others Come Forward

Following O’Ferrall’s post, several others came forward to share their experiences, with some saying that he would often send them explicit pictures that were unsolicited.

Those who came forward included at least two people who claim that they were underage at the time of their interactions with Knabenbauer. One fan, who goes by Chai, tweeted details, but later set his Twitter account to private.

ProJared sexually manipulated me via Tumblr when I was 16,” Chai wrote, according to a reuploaded screenshot of his post. “I sent him many actual, real nudes. He knew I was 16.”

Chai also said that he sent lewd pictures to ProJared’s blog “with the explicit instruction ‘do not post this online. I’m 16.’ He posted them anyway.”

Chai noted in his statement that he had another friend who was also underage and “had been manipulated in the same way,” Chai said this individual was planning on coming forward.

Shortly after, a user who goes by Charlie came forward with a story similar to Chai’s. In a Twitter thread, Charlie shared a statement of their experience with Knabenbauer and provided screenshots of their conversations.

In the statement, Charlie writes that they were a “really big fan of ProJared” when they were “around the same age as Chai (15-16).” Charlie said that Knabenbauer asked fan’s on his Tumblr account to send naked pictures, noting that the blog was “in no way age restricted.”

“Jared is a grown man, I’m sure he understands that a significant chunk of his audience are middle and high schoolers,” Charlie wrote. “An open invitation to send him nudes is oddly predatory […] especially when there is a risk for minors (again, a good portion of his following) sending nudes.”

Charlie then goes on to say that they eventually sent Knabenbauer naked pictures.“He messaged me and thanked me and told me I was beautiful,” Charlie wrote. “I don’t think he ever asked for my age.”

The Blog

Since Chai and Charlie made their statements, others have come forward to talk about the Tumblr blog Knabenbauer created to send and share explicit pictures with his fans.

Rogue Rocket spoke to a Twitter user who goes by Bren, who told us they never interacted with Knabenbauer personally, but described themself as a witness to the blog. Bren said they found Knabenbauer’s blog in group chat for the game “Asagao Academy.”

“I remember that a handful of people in the group chat were into the blog, many were minors,” Bren said. “I would say that him creating the whole blog was incredibly manipulative. His fan base was made up of so many underage fans.”

Bren described how Knabenbauer would refer to his fans who submitted naked pictures as “sinners.”

“Two adults wouldn’t say they’re ‘sinning’ when sharing nudes, but a teenager who hasn’t had the chance to explore their sexuality might have that view,” Bren said. “So to me, all of the talk about sinning and sinners felt like he was well aware that there was a large gap in the levels of sexual experience between him and his fans, and I think he got off to this idea of him, a 30 something year old man, being “naughty” and “sinful” with people half his age.. essentially grooming a whole group of fans.”

“Not to mention the power dynamic between a famous Youtuber and his audience, which is only amplified when much of that audience is underage,” Bren continued. “So when he was asking for nudes on his tumblr, it only made sense that his underage fans would answer that call.”

Bren’s experience was echoed by a person who goes by Asa, who spoke to The Daily Beast about their experience messaging Knabenbauer.

“I was freshly 18, and I had absolutely no romantic or sexual experiences,” Asa said. “He asked if I was over 18, and I said yes, mentioning that my birthday was scarcely a few months prior. He said that he was honored I would want to ‘use’ my newfound legality with him.”

Asa also claimed that it was “barely a secret” that underage people were interacting with Knabenbauer blog, adding, “I know a few of my friends had taken their ages off of their page so that Jared couldn’t verify that they were under 18.”

Response

In response to the allegations, NormalBoots, the creator collective that Knabenbauer is a part of, posted a statement on Twitter, saying that they had been informed of the allegations in an email a month prior.

“On April 4, 2019, an unsolicited e-mail was sent to the NormalBoots business account containing allegations of inappropriate conduct pertaining to Jared Knabenbauer,” the statement said. “Upon receiving the e-mail, NormalBoots Manager, Jacque Khalil took immediate action to alert the appropriate parties, including Mr. Knabenbauer and the NormalBoots legal team, of the allegations. No other members of NormalBoots were made aware of the allegations while the investigation into the allegations was ongoing.”

The statement goes on to say that NormalBoots had planned to terminate their relationship with Knabenbauer before the allegations were made public, but have since “mutually agreed to part ways.”

In a Twitter post, Chai said that he and Charlie sent the email to NormalBoots, and shared a screenshot of the email the two received from them.

Knabenbauer himself has yet to make a statement, but many of his fans and others in the community have started to distance themselves from him. According to SocialBlade, Knabenbauer’s YouTube channel lost more than 100,000 subscribers in the first 24 hours after the allegations came out alone. Since then, he has lost a total of more than 200,000 followers.

Other gamers creators have also been distancing themselves from Knabenbauer as well, like popular creator collective Game Grumps, which has started deleting videos that Knabenbauer appeared in.

The accusations against Knabenbauer represents part of the broader problem of popular YouTubers using their position to prey on underage fans. Just two weeks ago, famous YouTuber Austin Jones was sentenced to ten years in federal prison for soliciting sexually explicit photos from multiple underage fans, some of whom were as young as 14.

Updates: This article was originally posted on May 10, but has been updated to include statements from Bren and Asa, the correct pronouns for Charlie, and updated records of ProJared’s subscriber loss as of May 14.

See what others are saying: (The Daily Beast) (The Verge) (Kotaku)

Advertisements

Industry

YouTube Family Vlogger Petitions FTC Ahead of 2020 COPPA Enforcement

Published

on

  • YouTube will soon remove personalized ads from children’s content after the Federal Trade Commission determined that it had violated children’s privacy laws by placing targeted ads over kids’ content.
  • Following YouTube’s announcement, creators like Jeremy Johnston of J House Vlogs are now bringing their concerns directly before the Federal Trade Commission during their open window, which closes Dec. 9.
  • Among other concerns, creators are asking the FTC to provide a better definition of “child-directed” content out of fear that they may still lose ads on video that may be deemed “attractive,” but not necessarily directed at children.

YouTubers Lobby FTC

Children’s content creators and family bloggers on YouTube are lobbying against upcoming changes to an online child privacy law, which they say will affect the quality of their videos and how those videos make money.

As of Thursday afternoon, a Change.org petition arguing against the changes has attracted more than 38,000 signatures. The petition was started by Jeremy Johnston who, along with his wife Kendra, run the family vlogging channel J House Vlogs.

In September, YouTube announced that it would be changing the way it displays ads on children’s content. The changes are meant to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act after the Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General Letitia James accused YouTube of illegally collecting personal information from children to show them targeted ads.

Regarding ads, YouTube uses two types: general and personalized ads. General ads appear regardless of a user’s viewing history, but personalized ads look at a user’s viewing history to present products or services a user may be more interested in. 

Because of the changes to COPPA, YouTube said it will remove all personalized ads on children’s content in January. The FTC also said it would hear public comments until Oct. 23 before enforcing new COPPA guidelines.

As a result, Johnston has lobbied the Federal Trade Commission in an attempt to add exceptions to children’s content creators. 

Johnston Speaks with Rogue Rocket

In an interview with Rogue Rocket, Johnston said he filed a request to extend the FTC’s public comments period until Dec. 9, which was later approved.

Johnston told Rogue Rocket he made the filing after meeting with the FTC. During the meeting, he said the commission was unaware that personalized and general ads paid different amounts to creators. 

While Johnston said he thought the FTC was legitimately trying to do what’s best for children, he also said FTC was largely unaware of creators’ concerns beforehand. 

Regarding his own channel, Johnston said he and his wife have already decided to pull the plug on a planned children’s channel called J House Jr.

While he said big creators can find other ways to generate money, through brand deals or other projects, he also said losing personalized ads can be devastating for channels.

“That isn’t going to be available for the small creators in the future, and that’s a big reason why I’m speaking out,” he told Rogue Rocket. “I wouldn’t be doing all of this if it was just about my channel. But I’m considering other people like me or other people five years, 10 years from now who want to get going. I’m so grateful that when I took that leap of faith to say ‘I’m going to do YouTube full-time’ that ad revenue made that possible.”  

Although Johnston said he understands the need for parents to have control in their kids’ privacy online, he said the new changes won’t do that. 

“We care about children’s privacy,” he said. “We are just saying that this regulation is going to do more harm than good. I think it’s really important that we all recognize that the majority of parents are letting their children watch YouTube main.”  

“We’re wanting parents to continue making that choice with the government coming in and overriding the parents’ decision,” he continued. “If parents were really concerned with personalized ads, it raises the question, why are they all letting their children watch YouTube main?” 

What’s in the Petition?

Specifically, the creators and supporters who’ve signed that petition are asking the FTC to provide a statement on how COPPA will be enforced against creators, as well as clarify the definition of “child-directed” content. 

One major concern for creators is the specific use of the language “child-directed.” Currently, the FTC is debating whether or not to add “child-attractive” content, ie. content that is marketed to a general audience but could still be considered friendly for children to watch. 

The petition also requests that the FTC delay enforcement any changes until it finishes reviewing COPPA.

It ends by asking the FTC to encourage parents to use apps like YouTube Kids instead of forcing creators to turn off personalized ads.

According to Bloomberg, YouTube Kids currently only attracts about 1% of YouTube’s total audience even though kids’ content is the most-viewed on YouTube.

Why Is This Important to Viewers?

While some viewers find ads annoying, many creators make money by placing ads in front of their videos.

According to Tubefilter, general ads can bring in anywhere from 60 to 90% less than personalized ads. Creators fear that the loss of revenue could, in turn, hurt the quality of their videos. 

In fact, Johnston says a lot of the money made from J House Vlogs videos goes back into making quality content on the channel.

In addition to that, creators also worry their content could be fined for violating COPPA, with that fine being up to $42,530. Creators like Johnston and Derral Eves say that these concerns could also result in more mature content on YouTube. 

See what others are saying: (Bloomberg) (Tubefilter)

Advertisements
Continue Reading

Industry

Shane Dawson Accused of Using Tati Westbrook and James Charles Drama as Clickbait Amid Success of Massive Beauty Launch

Published

on

  • Shane Dawson’s collaboration with Jeffree Star officially launched online and in stores Friday.
  • Fans crashed the website within seconds and stood in line for hours to get their hands on the products, which have since completely sold out. 
  • Amid all the craze surrounding the launch, Dawson is also facing criticism from viewers who say he used the Tati Westbrook- James Charles drama for clickbait in the trailer since it has yet to be mentioned in the series.

Shane Dawson Beauty Launch 

Shane Dawson and Jeffree Stars’ highly anticipated makeup and merchandise collaboration finally launched Friday and quickly took over the internet, meanwhile, fans are still wondering if YouTube beauty drama will be included in upcoming episodes of his series. 

The YouTubers released two eyeshadow palettes, a collection of liquid lipsticks, a line of merchandise, and more. But fans had completely overwhelmed the website before the company behind it, Shopify, could even finish listing each item for sale. 

Minutes after the scheduled launch time, Star tweeted that the site had crashed, adding “Shane’s in a ball crying on the floor.” 

Issues persisted for hours, with many users complaining about the site crashing, error messages, missing confirmation emails, and other problems.

Those who chose to purchase the palette at their local Morphe stores also had to wait in huge lines to get their hands on any of the products. 

As many people expected, the Conspiracy palette was completely sold out by the middle of the day, with the rest of the line selling out shortly after.

Although we don’t know the exact figures just yet, it seems the launch has already broken records according to Jeffree Star, who said the statistics will be released in the coming days. 

Fans Accuse Shane of Clickbait 

The build-up for the release was of course set up by each installment of Dawson’s docu-series, “The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star.” Of the six parts that have been released so far, the lowest viewed episode sits at over 14 million views, while all of the episodes combined make up over 110 million views. 

Despite the success of the episodes so far, some fans are upset that Dawson has not included any footage from the infamous Tati Westbrook and James Charles drama. 

As you might remember, massive beauty influencer James Charles lost nearly 3 million subscribers in May after his former mentor Tati Westbrook posted her infamous “Bye Sister” video, publicly announcing the end of their friendship. One stand out moment in the video involved her claim that Charles uses his celebrity status to sexually manipulate straight men. 

Star and Dawson both publicly expressed their support for Westbrook during the whole ordeal, with Star even going so far as to call Charles a predator.  After apologies and explanations from Charles, Star, and Westbrook, the drama eventually blew over and Charles’ subscriber count bounced back.

Fans were hoping to see more about Star and Dawson’s involvement and opinions on the situation in his series and it seemed like they were going to get exactly that. In his trailer for the docu-series, Dawson included footage of him reacting to Westbrook’s initial video and Charles’ subscriber loss.

As of now, the series has seemed to move in chronological order without any mention of the drama, which has left some fans feeling disappointed. Some have even accused Dawson of using the incident as clickbait for views.

Some suggested that Dawson excluded the drama out of respect for those involved, especially since Westbrook and Charles both recently released products last month. Others said it would be harmful to bring it all back up again after everyone has seemingly moved past it. 

Fans also said it was likely a decision to focus on the business aspect of the beauty industry rather than the drama. They specifically pointed to a poll Dawson posted early on in the series asking viewers what they wanted to see more of, though viewers seem to be split on what the results actually were. Meanwhile, others pointed out that there are still more episodes set to come.

See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (PopBuzz)(Mashable)

Advertisements
Continue Reading

Industry

YouTuber Jaclyn Hill Defends “Canceled” Halloween Costume

Published

on

  • Critics are slamming beauty YouTuber Jaclyn Hill for appearing at her Haloween party this weekend as a “canceled” version of herself. 
  • Some thought she was making light of her recent lipstick scandal and mocking customers who were upset with her over the failed product launch. 
  • Hill addressed the backlash, saying the costume was not about her customers or her lipsticks but instead was a comment about the community and cancel culture.

Jaclyn HIll’s Costume 

Beauty YouTuber Jaclyn Hill has responded to backlash over her Halloween costume – a “canceled” version of herself. 

Hill hosted a party at her temporary home in Los Angeles, California Saturday night, which was packed with dozens of her friends and fellow YouTubers like James Charles and Nikita Dragun. 

But the main talk of the party online was Hill’s costume. The beauty guru wore a black dress with red letters that spelled out “SHE’S CANCELED” and “JACLYN HILL IS CANCELED.” She also sported some fake wounds and blood to add to the Halloween look.

Many found this costume to be a risky choice considering the recent scandal surrounding her lipstick line launch this past June. Customers complained of lumpy lipsticks embedded with hairs or what they thought might have been shards of plastic. Others believed that she might have been selling old lipsticks that were moldy and unsafe to use.

Hill later denied those claims and apologized to her customers. She gave explanations for defective products, like cotton gloves used in production causing the hairs and high temperatures during shipping affecting consistency. The whole ordeal came to an end when she issued refunds, though she never recalled the product as many had asked and promised they were still safe to use. 

She wasn’t the only one who was inspired by the lipstick controversy. Drama YouTuber Sebastian Williams even appeared at the event wearing “Jaclyn Hill’s harry lipsticks as horns.”

Mixed Reactions 

A lot of social media users saw Hill’s costume as a funny way to own her controversy and poke fun at herself. 

Others, however, took issue with her making light of the situation. Some called it tacky, while others argued that it was disrespectful towards customers who had been let down by her lipstick launch. 

Jaclyn Hill Defends Costume

After seeing some of the backlash, Hill took to Twitter to explain that her costume wasn’t aimed at her customers. 

“This costume has NOTHING to do with my fans or customers,” she tweeted. “It has to do with ‘cancel culture’ that has become so popular. I adore my subscribers & they know that!”

She made a similar statement in another post saying, “A lot of people are missing the point. This has nothing to do with my lipsticks. That’s a whole different situation. This costume was supposed to be about the community. About Influencers & cancel culture. But people can read into it however they want obviously.” 

In an Instagram post, she wrote a more detailed caption about the intentions behind her costume, saying, “Over the last several years the internet has become more & more cruel & has developed what we now call “cancel culture” not one day has gone by in over 2 years where I have not seen ‘you’re canceled’ online.”

“I wanted to create a look showing the glam side of this industry & the ugly,” she added. “So here is it. You want me canceled? You got it baby. And I know my “haters” are going to HATE this costume. But that’s okay, I love you anyway.”

Hill also address a less serious element of the costume that critics seemed to also take issue with: spelling. One tweet went viral, slamming the beauty guru for using one “L” instead of two on her costume. 

She responded to that with a Google search of the proper way to spell the term, which notes that both are correct, but one “L” is more favored by Americans while two are more commonly used in British English.  

In response to the viral tweet, she wrote “OMGGGG! Over 100k favorites??!! Does this mean im famous!!? I love my illiterate ass.” Then in a reply to fan defending her, she wrote “I have to laugh at all these tweets about my ‘misspelling’ people will find anything!! Even when google & the dictionary proves it correct, they still gotta reach.” 

See what others are saying: (E! News) (PopBuzz) (Insider)

Advertisements
Continue Reading