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YouTuber ProJared Accused of Soliciting Explicit Photos From Underage Fans

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  • 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)

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Shane Dawson Says Hurtful Comments Are the Reason He Doesn’t Upload More

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  • Shane Dawson uploaded a video to his new YouTube channel dedicated to makeup videos and other “random” posts.
  • Shortly after his latest video went live, Dawson shared a comment someone left about his weight, saying that comments like these are what keep him from uploading more. 
  • After a flood of support, Dawson apologized for posting the screenshot and said he was taking a break from the internet.

Shane Glossin 

Long-time YouTuber Shane Dawson opened up on Wednesday about negative comments that make him hesitant to upload more content. 

As you probably already know, Dawson has a massively successful channel with over 23 million subscribers. And while fans love when he drops a new docuseries, he regularly hears complaints that he doesn’t upload enough. 

At some point during the process of his recent makeup collaboration with Jeffree Star Cosmetics, he was inspired to create a new channel, ShaneGlossin, which is named after a lip gloss included in his collection. Dawson does already have a second channel, Shane Dawson TV, though he hasn’t uploaded through that account in several years. 

In January, Dawson made his followers aware of the third account, calling it a low-pressure place to post makeup videos and other random content. 

Shane Tweets About Negative Comments

While his main channel has remained inactive over the past two months, Dawson has uploaded a few videos to his new channel, which currently sits at just over 3 million subscribers. On Wednesday, he uploaded a light-hearted video about his bedazzling obsession and shortly after the video went live, he shared a screenshot of a comment someone left under it.

The comment he shared read: “I love Shane but it’s a damn shame to watch him putting all this weight back on while everyone around him laughs and enables it.”

“Hey Shane why don’t u post more? Why don’t u upload more? Well… this 🙃,” Dawson wrote in the tweet that accompanied the screenshot. “You would think after 13 years on youtube comments wouldn’t get to me but damn… they still feel like the very first time haha.”

It’s no secret that for years, Dawson has been open about his weight insecurities, body image issues, and mental health struggles. After sharing the comment, fans quickly flooded him with messages of love and support. 

In a follow-up post, Dawson apologized for sharing the screenshot “Thanks for the nice tweets. I appreciate it a lot,” he wrote. “Sorry I got sensitive and posted that. I usually just ignore stuff but I’m just in a weird headspace lately :/ I think I’m gonna take a break from the internet for a bit. Thanks for being supportive and having my back.” 

While Dawson has been met with kindness from friends and fans, his post highlights the impact hate comments on social media can have on a person, no matter how big or small their following.

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (Pop Buzz) (Distractify)

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Ninja Sparks Conversations About Dealing With Gaming Losses

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  • Ninja tweeted that the phrase “it’s just a game” signals a weak mindset and was critical of players who are not angry after a loss. 
  • Some saw it as a message about improvement and taking the game seriously, while others used it as an opportunity to make jokes. 
  • But many said the comments send a bad message to his young audience and argued that you do not need to become angry to learn from a loss.

Ninja’s Message 

Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, one of the Internet’s biggest gamers, called out players who aren’t angry after a loss, sparking conversations about healthy ways to deal with failure. 

On Tuesday, Ninja tweeted, “The phrase ‘it’s just a game’ is such a weak mindset. You are ok with what happened, losing, imperfection of a craft. When you stop getting angry after losing, you’ve lost twice.”

“There’s always something to learn, and always room for improvement, never settle,” he added.

Reactions 

Many interpreted his tweet as an inspirational message about taking gaming seriously and agreed with him. 

Others used it as an opportunity to crack jokes about his intense remarks, including Lil Nas X and KSI.

But plenty of others thought his comments actually sent a dangerous message about dealing with and learning from failure. 

Gaming YouTuber Ohmwrecker, also known as MaskedGamer, disagreed with Ninja. In a response tweet, he said, “You don’t have to be a sore / salty loser and get all toxic to learn from a loss. I feel strongly losing helps you get better, especially in competitive games.  Anyone doing anything competitive should find value in a loss, but don’t need anger to benefit.”

He also said it actually was weak to suggest that managing your emotions is “losing twice” and accused Ninja of trying to justify his own internal challenges.

Thousands of other users chimed in expressing similar sentiments about managing emotions.

Ninja Says He Never Suggested Violent Rage Was Appropriate 

In a now-deleted tweet, another person called Ninja’s stance disappointing, “particularly from someone with an audience who will take this as ‘it’s ok to smash my keyboard/scream at my loved ones/punch a hole in the wall just because I lost a game.’”

@zhiana

Ninja responded to that user with, “Where in this tweet do I say punch a wall and smash a keyboard/rage? It’s the way you perceived the message 🤔”

When someone argued that Ninja was essentially telling kids to keep playing until they win otherwise they are failures, Ninja said, “‘There is always room for improvement, never settle’ is bad advice?”

The wave of backlash doesn’t seem to have changed Ninja’s mind about his long-running issue with people who say “its just a game.” One user even shared a clip of Ninja once commenting on this topic. “Imagine telling Lebron James, Tom Brady, that when they’re pissed off after losing a game that ‘its just a game,” he says in the clip. 

“Are you kidding me? You’re so stupid. It’s the competitive nature bro. It’s about respect bro. It’s about pride. It’s so much bigger than a fucking video game, and anyone that ever users the excuse ‘it’s just a game’ is a horrible human being and is lazy.” 

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (GameRevolution) (CCN)

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Jake Paul Criticized for Tweets About Anxiety

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  • YouTuber Jake Paul tweeted, “remember anxiety is created by you,” before advising his followers who might be struggling to remind themselves to be happy, relax their minds, and talk to a friend. 
  • Many found his comments insulting and dangerous, but others defended him for what they felt was a well-intentioned tweet with advice that some might find helpful.  
  • In a follow-up tweet, Paul opened up about his own anxiety issues and explained that he was trying to say there are ways to help cope, but he eventually deleted that post along with his initial tweet.

“Anxiety is Created by You”

Internet users are slamming YouTuber Jake Paul over a tweet about mental health that many found dangerous and insulting. 

On Monday the 23-year-old tweeted, “remember anxiety is created by you. sometimes you gotta let life play out and remind yourself to be happy & that the answers will come.”

“Chill your mind out,” he added before recommending that those struggling “go for a walk” or “talk to a friend.” 

@jakepaul

Backlash 

The tweet prompted thousands of responses from internet users. Many, of course, joked that Paul had “cured” their anxiety. 

Meanwhile, others fired back with more serious responses, including people who suffer from anxiety themselves. 

Fellow YouTubers like Sierra Schultzzie also chimed in writing, “This is actually really harmful. Anxiety can be incredibly physical as well as mental. Mental illness is not the fault of the sufferer.”

“Please delete this, you are doing actual harm to your followers who very well may need to be seeking professional help for their problems,” she added.

Colleen Ballinger tweeted, “telling people with anxiety to just stop having anxiety does not help them with their anxiety.” 

Andrea Russett wrote, “i can’t believe i’m paying $200 an hour for therapy when i could just remind myself to be happy.”

Paul Tries to Clarify 

After seeing some backlash, Paul went back to Twitter with a follow-up post to expand on what he meant. “What I meant is that your anxiety can build up if you let it,” he wrote, “it doesn’t just go away.”

“Mine never does but there’s days where it’s really bad and then there’s days when it’s not as bad so if anxiety starts to build up there ARE ways to help it chill out.” 

@jakepaul

In another tweet, he wrote: “everyone is clowning my tweet but not it’s spreading more awareness about anxiety which I didn’t even know was a thing till I was 18 but had it my whole life & never knew how to deal with it.”

“If u think u have it or wanna deal with it try reading this,” Paul added along with a link to an article about coping with anxiety from Healthline.com.

In response to those comments, more influencers explained what exactly their issues were with his initial post.

Taylor Nicole Dean said, “ur tweet spread bAD info about anxiety bc it can stop people from getting help when it’s needed thinking they can just walk it off and chill :/ it was also a lil insulting to those who deal with it.”

Sky Williams responded by telling Paul his tweet was dangerous to his young audience. “Anxiety is bad enough as it is, but now you’re trying to make it seem like its our fault that we feel anxious. it’s just so invalidating and shortsighted. You should delete it.”

Paul eventually deleted his initial post as well as his follow up tweet, but left up think link he shared about coping with anxiety. 

Some Defend Paul

Despite the widespread backlash against Paul, many felt that his tweet was well-intentioned and could be helpful advice for some. 

Others argued that he shouldn’t be attacked for trying to share advice that has helped him. Instead, those who took issue with his phrasing or message should use this as an opportunity to educate.

See what others are saying: (Mashable) (Newsweek) (BBC)

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