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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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Facebook Employees Hold Virtual Walkout Over Zuckerberg’s Stance on Trump Posts

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Source: Mark Lennihan/AP/Shutterstock

  • Twitter put a warning message over a Tweet from President Donald Trump Thursday which it said “glorifies violence.”
  • In that tweet, Trump criticized the nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd, warning that“when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
  • The move escalated tensions between Trump and Twitter. Last week the feud prompted Trump to issue an executive order aimed at restricting social media platforms’ ability to police their own content.
  • Employees at Facebook, which did not issue any sort of warning for the exact same post, are furious at CEO Mark Zuckerberg for allowing that post to remain.

Facebook Employees Angry

Twitter angered President Donald Trump last week after issuing warnings on several of his tweets, and now, Facebook employees are now targeting their CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, for not doing the same.

Twitter’s issued a fact-check warning on Trump’s May 26 tweets, which falsely claimed that increased access to mail-in voting will lead to extensive voter fraud.

Then, Thursday night, the company followed up by hiding a different tweet from the president that it said “glorifies violence.”

Notably, these are the first instances where Twitter has corrected or censored Trump, something many have called on them to do for years. 

Facebook, however, has stuck to its policy to not censor the president’s speech, even if it could be interpreted as violence. 

“I’ve been struggling with how to respond to the President’s tweets and posts all day,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on Friday. “Personally, I have a visceral negative reaction to this kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric.”

“But I’m responsible for reacting not just in my personal capacity but as the leader of an institution committed to free expression,”  he added. 

“I disagree strongly with how the President spoke about this, but I believe people should be able to see this for themselves, because ultimately accountability for those in positions of power can only happen when their speech is scrutinized out in the open.”

Zuckerberg’s post was yet another defense of his long-held stance regarding the platform’s responsibility to censor violent speech and misinformation from politicians. 

Still, Zuckerberg’s unwavering stance has resulted in a number of Facebook employees publicly disagreeing with their boss. 

“Inaction is not the answer,” employee Diego Mendes said on Sunday. “Facebook leadership is wrong.” 

@DiegoMendes

Other employees continued to take to Twitter to express their opposition to Zuckerberg’s philosophy, one saying, “I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we’re showing up. The majority of coworkers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard.”

Monday, dozens of Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout in further protest of Zuckerberg’s “inaction.” Many also took to Twitter with #TakeAction.

During the virtual protest, The New York Times reported that two senior employees threatened to resign if Zuckerberg does not change course on Facebook’s policy.

“We recognize the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our Black community,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNBC in a statement Monday. “We encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership. As we face additional difficult decisions around content ahead, we’ll continue seeking their honest feedback.”

Zuckerberg will meet with his staff Tuesday to discuss disputes over those posts, moving his weekly meeting up from Thursday in response to the walkout.

Twitter Flags Trump Tweet

Trump’s tweet Thursday was critical of the protests that became violence following the death of George Floyd.

In the first of two tweets, Trump says he can’t stand by and watch the situation in Minneapolis. He goes on to jab Mayor Jacob Frey for being a “weak radical left mayor.”

But that tweet was never flagged. It was actually Trump’s second tweet that Twitter targeted because, in it, Trump said, “…when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence,” Twitter wrote above the tweet, which is hidden and must be clicked into while on the site. “However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

While Twitter did not delete the tweet, it has disabled all likes and replies on the post. Currently, the only way to directly share the tweet is to retweet it with a comment.

Early Friday morning, Twitter followed up with another statement, where it explained that the tweet violated “policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today.”

As many online have also noted, the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” carries with it a deeply dividing history. 

It’s first known use was in 1967 by Miami police chief Walter Headley to describe his department’s plans to crack down on protests in black neighborhoods. According to historians, that phrase was even considered to have contributed to the city’s race riots in the late 1960s.

White House Quotes Censored Trump Tweet

In opposition to Twitter’s decision, Friday morning, the White House Twitter account quoted Trump’s censored tweet. That tweet then got hit with the same warning.

The White House later posted another tweet defending the president, saying he didn’t glorify violence.

“He clearly condemned it,” the account said. “@Jack [Dorsey] and Twitter’s biased, bad-faith “fact-checkers” have made it clear: Twitter is a publisher, not a platform.”

In addition to the White House, Trump continued his battle against Twitter Friday morning in a series of tweets that accused the site of having an anti-conservative bias. 

“Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night – or look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot,” Trump also said in defense of his original comment. “I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means.”

“It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement. It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media. Honor the memory of George Floyd!” 

Trump’s Executive Order

Prior to posting this original comment on Thursday, Trump signed an executive order aiming to restrict social media platforms’ ability to police their own content.

Following this, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey promised to continue issuing fact-checks and even warnings against Trump if he’s found in violation of Twitter’s policies.

On Friday, prompted by journalists, Google released a statement saying that undermining the statute that affords platforms their freedoms to moderate their content would “hurt America’s economy and its global leadership on internet freedom.” 

Still, both Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Representative Matt Gaetz have promised to introduce legislation that would roll back this statue. For his part, Trump has been very receptive of that idea.

However, there have been a number of reports that any restriction could face major hurdles with the Federal Communications Commission as well as in court over whether such a move would impinge on speech freedoms. 

See what others are saying: (Reuters) (Forbes) (CNBC)

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YouTuber Myka Stauffer Slammed for Placing Autistic 4-Year-Old With New Adoptive Family

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  • YouTuber Myka Stauffer and her husband James, who adopted an autistic boy from China in 2017, announced that they have decided to permanently place the toddler with a new adoptive family.
  • In their announcement video, the couple said medical professionals and the adoption agency felt it was best to find a better fit for the boy after several evaluations.  
  • However, many people are outraged by the decision, accusing the family of exploiting the child and his story for sponsorships and monetized videos, then giving up on him because of his special needs.

The Stauffer’s Announcement 

A YouTube couple has been flooded with criticism since announcing that they have permanently placed their autistic 4-year-old in another home, after adopting him from china years ago. 

Myka Stauffer runs a YouTube channel with over 700,000 subscribers where she posts videos about home organization, her experience as a mother, and more. She also posts vlogs on a separate family channel that has over 300,000 subscribers.

For years Myka and her husband James have shared intimate details about their lives as parents, from pregnancies to births and beyond. One of the most emotional experiences they’ve shared has been their international adoption journey. But the couple shocked fans Tuesday when they confirmed that their 4-year-old son Huxley had been placed with a new adoptive family. 

The Stauffer’s adopted Huxley from China in October 2017, and the video of him being brought home is actually the most viewed video on Myka’s channel, with over 5.5 million views.   

But in their tearful video update, James said that Huxley has been in numerous therapy treatments over the last few years to help with his severe special needs. Myka has previously said he has reactive attachment disorder and level 3 autism, though the adoption agency initially told her he had brain damage and a brain tumor.

According to James, over the last year specifically, Huxley’s therapy sessions have been more intense. 

“After multiple assessments, after multiple evaluations, multiple medical professionals had felt that he needed a different fit and that his medical needs…he needed more,” Myka explained.

Fans have been asking about Huxley for months, as he hasn’t appeared on any of their social media posts. Some have even made Instagram accounts dedicated to finding answers about his whereabouts. 

So as far as why they have waited to announce the news, James said, “It’s because we’ve been trying to protect his privacy, his rights, and also just try to not mess up his future that was laid out in front of us. We’re trying to just make sure we don’t impact that at all when making this video.”

Myka also explained that she tried to share as little as she could about Huxley’s situation because of this. “Anything that happened in the home that was hard for Hux, that’s not fair for me to put there publicly. That’s his privacy. So we’re not going to talk about that. It’s not appropriate and it’ll never be appropriate. I didn’t adopt a little boy to share these things publicly.”

She also said that they’ve waited to talk about this because medical professionals have been allowing Huxley to spend time with different people to help him find his “new forever family.” Based on the updates they’ve received, it appears that Huxley is now in a home that the adoption agency feels is the best fit, with a parent who has medical professional training. 

Still, the couple said they’re grieving and tried to help him as much as possible because they never wanted to be in this position. “Do I feel like a failure as a mom? Like 500 percent,” Myka said.

“So when I get like insidious, hurtful comments, it just really makes it hurt worse. It’s not about me at all, but it’s just like this journey, the last couple months, has been like the hardest thing I could’ve ever imagine going to – choosing to do.”

The couple closed by asking their followers to respect their privacy and understand that they are hurting, even if they are seen on social media in positive spirits. 

Backlash

So after this news was announced, many people took to the comments section and social media sites to expressed sadness for Huxley. However, plenty of people also slammed the couple for their decision.

“I’m sorry but you did fail as a mum. You wouldn’t have given up your own child,” one commenter wrote.

“Autistic children aren’t puppies. They don’t have ‘forever families.’ They don’t get ‘rehomed.’ They get abandoned,” another Twitter user said. 

On top of that, there are a ton of people who feel that the couple exploited Huxley for their channel, pointing to the fact that they monetized adoption videos and took sponsorships for them. 

Now, some are calling for the family to take all videos of Huxley down, while others are sharing a change.org petition asking YouTube to remove monetization from those videos. 

According to Myka’s channel, she has shared 27 videos about their adoption journey, which included updates and Q&A about the process. The vlog channel currently has no content on it, though it’s unclear if videos were recently changed to private following all of the outrage.

To understand what people are now questioning the family’s ethics for, some are pointing to a sponsored video where proceeds were supposed to be “going towards bringing our SON home from China!”

In other videos, Myka promoted a fundraiser for helping Huxley’s needs. And in a 2017 video, she said every person who donated $5 would unlock a different piece of a 1,000-piece puzzle, which would, at the end, be a photo of Huxley that she would reveal to the world. She also said she would write the names of all donors in his baby book.

Others have slammed Myka because she was viewed as an adoption advocate who wrote for parenting blogs and magazines.

Meanwhile, others noted she regularly posted things suggesting she wouldn’t trade Huxley for anything.

Unconfirmed Response

There is a screenshot of a pinned YouTube comment that was allegedly written by Myka circulating online, however, that comment is not currently pinned under her video so it cannot be confirmed as real.

But it says that the family, “would never just give up a child with special needs, this is a personal matter to Hux it had nothing to do with he just had Autism.”

“Multiple scary things happened inside the home towards our other children, if these events happened with one of my biological kids, after all the help and after the behaviors we witnessed sadly we would have no other choice then to seek help and get their needs met.”

The comment claims that Huxley “wanted this decision 100%,” adding, “We sat that in family time with other people, he constantly choose them and signed and showed tons of emotion to show us and let us know he wanted this.”

As of now, there have been no further statements about the announcement, and the adoption videos still appear on Myka’s YouTube channel. Myka has not returned Rogue Rocket’s request for a comment on the issue.

See what others are saying: (People) (EOnline) (BBC)

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Trump Threatens to “Close Down” Twitter After It Fact-Checks Him for the First Time Ever

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  • Twitter slapped President Donald Trump with a fact check warning on Tuesday after he falsely claimed that increased access to mail-in voting will lead to extensive voter fraud.
  • This is the first time Twitter has labeled a tweet from the president with a warning, despite facing pressure to do so for years. 
  • By Wednesday morning, Trump threatened to “close down” Twitter and other social media sites, though it is unclear how he would involve the federal government or if this is simply meant to put pressure on the platform.

Twitter Slaps Trump With Fact-Check Warning

President Donald Trump is threatening to involve the federal government and potentially “close down” social media sites like Twitter after the platform issued a fact-check label on a post he made regarding mail-in voting.

While Twitter has been increasing its usage of fact-check warnings ahead of the 2020 presidential elections, this is the first time Twitter has directly labeled a tweet from the president. 

“There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent,” Trump said in the first of two tweets on Tuesday. “Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone…..”

“….living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one,” he continued in the second tweet. “That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!”

Near the bottom of both of those tweets, Twitter has issued the hyperlinked warning: “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.” Clicking that link redirects users to a page featuring a series of related articles from outlets like CNN, The Hill, and The Washington Post.

Additionally, in a bulleted section above that, Twitter issued several statements highlighting why it decided to include the warning:

  • “Trump falsely claimed that mail-in ballots would lead to ‘a Rigged Election.’ However, fact-checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud.”
  • “Trump falsely claimed that California will send mail-in ballots to ‘anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there.’ In fact, only registered voters will receive ballots.”
  • “Five states already vote entirely by mail and all states offer some form of mail-in absentee voting, according to NBC News.”

While it’s nothing new to see the president making claims that mail-in voting is going to lead to voter fraud (even though experts say voter fraud is incredibly rare), Twitter’s move represents a major new step for the platform. For years, it has faced criticism over how to handle Trump’s tweets.

In the past, Twitter argued that users would jump into the debate and expose false information themselves; however, it has recently increased its steps to outright label misleading or false content.

In March, the Trump campaign posted an out-of-context clip of Joe Biden, which Twitter labeled as “manipulated media.”

Notably, Trump posted the exact same content on Facebook, but Facebook has said it doesn’t plan to label or remove the post.

“We believe that people should be able to have a robust debate about the electoral process, which is why we have crafted our policies to focus on misrepresentations that would interfere with the vote,” a spokesperson said, echoing Twitter’s previous reasoning for not implementing fact-checking.

Trump Rails Against Twitter for Fact-Checking Him

Unsurprisingly, Trump was less than thrilled with Twitter’s fact check.

Tuesday afternoon, Trump accused the platform of interfering in the 2020 Presidential elections, going on to criticize it by saying, “….Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!”

Trump stepped up his threat Wednesday morning by saying he planned to either strongly regulate” or “close down” not only Twitter but social media platforms as a whole. 

“Twitter has now shown that everything we have been saying about them (and their other compatriots) is correct,” Trump added a few hours later. “Big action to follow!” 

Currently, it’s unknown specifically how Trump would want the federal government to crack down on Twitter. It’s also unclear if this was nothing more than an empty threat meant to pressure Twitter and other social media platforms to back off. In fact, such threats aren’t completely unknown for Trump to make. 

According to The Wall Street Journal, Trump reportedly worked to take action against social media platforms by floating the idea of forming a panel to review complaints of anti-conservative bias. 

As far as Twitter’s response to Trump’s backlash, a spokesperson for the company has said in a statement to a number of media outlets that Trump’s tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.”

Twitter Doesn’t Plan to Censor the Scarborough Tweets

While Twitter issued a warning on Trump’s mail-in voting tweets, it has refused to remove tweets Trump has made promoting a false conspiracy theory.

Those tweets involve Lori Klausutis, a woman who died in 2001 from complications of an undiagnosed heart condition while working for then-Representative Joe Scarborough. In those tweets, Trump has suggested Scarborough was behind her death.

On Tuesday, a letter from Klausutis’ widower went public. In it, he urged Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to delete Trump’s tweets about her, calling them “horrifying lies.” 

Publicly, Twitter has told CNN Business that it doesn’t plan to take action against the Scarborough tweets; however, according to an anonymous source who spoke to The Washington Post, Twitter is debating whether to take action on them.

See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Washington Post) (Fox Business)

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