- 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.
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.
He told his friends a version of events that omits his infidelity and portrays me as an aggressive and unreasonable person. As though I’m randomly angry and upset all the time, for no reason at all.— Heidi O’Ferrall✨ (@AtelierHeidi) May 9, 2019
It’s because he’s abusing me.
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.”
I used to think that among consenting adults, it was fine. 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.— Heidi O’Ferrall✨ (@AtelierHeidi) May 9, 2019
I would like to apologize for my role in enabling this.
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.”
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.”
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)
Meghan Rienks’ Channel Hack Highlights YouTube Support Issues
- For two months, YouTuber Meghan Rienks has been struggling to get YouTube Support’s help to recover her hacked vlog channel.
- After several confusing email exchanges with the company that presented her with no real solutions, Reinks said she only began to see more helpful and rapid responses when Shane Dawson and Gigi Hadid spoke up or offered their own connections.
- Rienks said she spoke on the phone with YouTube on Wednesday and learned she may not be able to get her videos back. She also said that she worries about smaller creators who are left with even fewer options when they have issues with their channels.
Rienks Battles with YouTube After Hack
After months of battling with YouTube to regain access to her hacked channel, YouTuber Meghan Rienks said that a call with the company revealed that she may not be able to get her videos back.
On Tuesday, she confirmed via Twitter that YouTube agreed to talk over the phone. The sudden help from the platform came just one day after she posted a 45-minute video detailing the company’s disappointing response to her vlog channel being hacked in January. That call, however, did not go in the direction she was hoping.
She posted on Twitter that the call “wasn’t great.” On a Wednesday night Instagram story, she told her followers that she would likely lose the content she had on the channel, some of which is a decade old.
Her problems with YouTube’s support stem back even further than this phone call. Rienks’ Monday video starts with her explaining that in October, she realized her main channel was not appearing online for viewers, despite it looking fine from her end while logged in. Solving this with YouTube took roughly two weeks. During that time, they had back and forths where they told her nothing was wrong with her channel.
The company eventually realized they had been looking into her vlog channel instead and had also sent her the wrong link to solve her main channel issues. During this time, she did notice a suspicious upload on her vlog channel but kept that on the back burner so she could focus on her main channel.
Her vlog channel came back to the forefront on January 2, when Rienks realized it had been fully hacked and rebranded. Her videos were gone, and even though the channel still had her URL, it was now called “Beauty Dior” and has new logos and images.
The page was now full of several newly posted videos, all of which appeared to be re-uploads of beauty tutorials which she suspects are also stolen. On top of that, the email she had associated with the channel was deleted, preventing her from recovering it and regaining control of the account.
Exchanges With YouTube Continue For Two Months
Rienks reached out to YouTube the following morning, thinking this would be an easy fix seeing as the hacking was very obvious. Instead, it led to a series of seemingly empty-worded exchanges between YouTube, Rienks, her manager, and others on her team. In some emails sent from YouTube, Rienks was not even included and had to be kept in the loop via her manager.
In one, the YouTuber support person addresses the email to “Alex.” However, no one involved in these communications is named Alex, or even a name remotely similar to Alex. Rienks stated multiple times that she felt she was not in contact with a real person.
Substantial news did not come from YouTube until February 22, when YouTube told Meghan they found no signs of abnormal activity on the channel. When she followed up, emphasizing that the channel had been fully rebranded, they maintained their findings in a grammatically messy email.
“Hi there, thanks for your reply. I understand why you’re wondering that the investigation resulted that no highjacking activity happened on the channel,” they wrote. “However, I can assure you that our internal team carefully investigated this and didn’t found any.”
They advised that she increase her password and account security, a measure she had actively been taking on all of her channels and social media accounts since the original incident in October.
Rienks Takes to Twitter
The next morning, she emailed them at 9 AM to request a phone call so she could guarantee swift, immediate contact with a real person. She also hopped on Twitter to express her frustrations.
At around the same time she sent her email, she shared YouTube’s response alongside proof that her account had been clearly hacked on Twitter. She also said she had seen a substantial loss in subscribers on the channel since January.
While those posts gained a decent amount of traction when she uploaded them, they blew up when YouTuber Shane Dawson shared one a little after 2 p.m. Dawson mentioned several YouTube Twitter accounts in his message, which included a plea for help.
Just 45 minutes after Shane sent his tweet out, Rienks saw action from YouTube. She received an email saying that phone support was not an option, but her case was now being marked high priority. She also began direct messaging Team YouTube, which led to more confusing back and forths.
After initially claiming that YouTube had looked into her main channel instead of her vlog, an excuse similar to one give during the first situation in October, Team YouTube they were “not sure why [internal teams] came to that conclusion” that there was no abnormal activity on her vlog. They assured Rienks that she had been in contact with real people at YouTube, and apologized for the delay in solving her problem.
“I am sorry you had to take to twitter to get more help with this,” one of the messages read. “That shouldn’t be the case at all.”
Around the same time, another well-known face slid into Rienks’ DMs –supermodel Gigi Hadid. Hadid, who is a follower of Reinks, told her that she was sorry about her situation, and had a friend at YouTube who could be able to help.
“This is the only time that I’m getting help,” Rienks said frustratedly in her video. “Is when Shane Dawson and Gigi Hadid help me. Thanks guys.”
On this day, Beauty Dior was still posting content on her channel. She also noted she saw that the account was being sold on a site for $500.
Rienks’ Frustrations with YouTube
While Rienks was recording her video, she got an update from YouTube.
“The email YouTube just sent is that I can have my channel transferred over to me, I just have to agree to not sue them,” Rienks explained. “And also, I can’t have any of the videos that were privated. Which is all of them.”
She spoke to her attorney about the email, who said that nothing in their message to her contained a legal document or legally binding clauses.
“This is a failed system and it’s not working,” she said, explaining her overall anger about YouTube’s response. “And also through all of this I found, if it’s not working for me, it is not working for so many creators who have much smaller channels.”
In the description of the video, she further expressed that while she wants her channel back, she also wants larger-scale change at YouTube.
“I want a meeting at Youtube. With REAL HUMANS. With the ‘people’ who run the support team & *personally* investigate hijacked channels,” she wrote. “Because it is a broken system and it needs to be changed. I know this is a long shot, but this has been happening for far too long, to far too many creators.”
“There’s no way that Youtube has coded & built software to pickup on less than 10 seconds of skewed pitch copyrighted song, yet they’re still unable to accurately verify a compromised channel,” she added. “This needs to change.”
When heading to Rienks’ vlog channel today, viewers can still find it as Beauty Dior.
Update: This article was updated from its original form to include new information about Rienks’ phone call with YouTube.
An Activist Hedge Fund Wants Jack Dorsey Out as Twitter CEO. Could That Change the Site?
- Last week, it was reported that conservative activist investor Elliott Management had purchased over $1 billion in Twitter shares, or about 4% of the company.
- Now, Elliott Management wants to replace Twitter’s co-founder, Jack Dorsey, as CEO.
- This is largely viewed as an attempt to boost Twitter’s stock, which has been underperforming since Dorsey reclaimed his CEO position in 2015.
- According to Fox News, a Dorsey ousting by Elliott Management could “raise the prospect that some of the changes to Twitter could make the platform a friendlier place for pro-Trump users.”
Hedge Fund Plans to Push Dorsey Out of Twitter
Twitter employees took to the platform Monday night in support of CEO Jack Dorsey after it was reported that an activist investment fund was trying to unseat him.
Last week, the fund known as Elliott Management announced it had bought roughly $1 billion in Twitter stock. According to Business Insider, that’s nearly 5% of the company and also enough to allow it to pressure Dorsey out of his CEO role.
Elliot Management wants to oust Dorsey for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most significant reason is that Twitter is underperforming. Dorsey previously served as CEO of Twitter until being fired in 2008. He then returned in 2015. Since then, Twitter’s shares have fallen by 6.2%. Facebook, by contrast, has gained more than 121% in that same timeframe.
In November, Dorsey also announced that he’s preparing to move to Africa for 3-6 months this year.
That’s on top of Dorsey already splitting his time between Twitter and Square, Inc., where Dorsey is also CEO.
Elliott Management’s main argument here will be that a full-time CEO would be able to devote more time to the company to help raise its stock value and grow the company.
This, however, isn’t the first time someone has announced a plan to oust Dorsey. In fact, such a move seemed bound to happen because unlike Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel, Dorsey does not have voting control of Twitter.
In December, New York University marketing professor Scott Galloway penned a letter calling for Dorsey’s removal.
“As of 12/6 I am the direct and beneficial owner of approximately 334,000 shares in Twitter,” Galloway said. “To be clear, my primary objective is the replacement of CEO Jack Dorsey.”
“Weak governance, a part-time CEO, relocation to Africa, damage to the commonwealth, and poor returns,” he added. “Stakeholders deserve a board and CEO that command the opportunity Twitter occupies.”
Could A Dorsey Oust Make Twitter More “Trump Friendly?”
The reasons why Elliott Management is trying to push Dorsey may not stop there.
The hedge fund is owned by Paul Singer, a conservative billionaire mega-donor. In 2016, Singer donated $24 million to Republican and right-leaning groups.
It is possible, as Fox News points out, that Elliot Management’s increased presence within Twitter could, at least in part, ease conservative’s concerns that Twitter has a left-leaning bias.
Elliott Management’s stake “[raises] the prospect that some of the changes to Twitter could make the platform a friendlier place for pro-Trump users. ”
Last year, California GOP Representative Devin Nunes filed a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter and several users. In that lawsuit, he accused the platform of “shadow-banning conservatives” and hiding their posts.
#WeBackJack Trends on Twitter
Following all of this, many Twitter employees supporting Dorsey in his role as CEO posted stories of their interactions with Dorsey using the hashtag #WeBackJack. Later Monday night, that tag began to trend.
“I’ve worked [for] many major corporations,” one user said. “Never did the CEO take 3 minutes to talk with me 1:1. Jack did (more than 3 mins might I add) & he didn’t treat me like someone below him. Ppl speak highly of him in rooms he’s not in. He’s not pretentious or egocentric. So yea #WeBackJack”
Telsa CEO Elon Musk also offered his support for Dorsey on Twitter Monday night, saying Dorsey “has a good [heart].”
Elliott Management Nominates Four Directors
While Elliott Management has not yet ousted Dorsey, it has nominated four people to Twitter’s board of directors.
Notably, there’s only going to be three seats available at this year’s annual meeting, but Elliott Management reportedly wants to ensure that it nominates enough people to fill all three seats and any vacancies that may unexpectedly arise.
Elliot Management’s move to remove Dorsey comes in the face of several major events including the worsening situation with the coronavirus, U.S. presidential elections, and the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Those events will likely attract more users to the site and could, in turn, drive more advertisers, thus increasing the company’s stock value.
Twitter, however, has fallen behind other social media platforms despite its widespread use. Reportedly, it has decided to focus on its core services even though other platforms have added features such as filters and stories.
It is unknown if a Dorsey ousting could change that policy as Twitter’s board of directors tries to increase its stock value.
See what others are saying: (Bloomberg) (Business Insider) (Fox News)
Pokémon, Star Wars & Candy Crush: How DLCs & Microtransactions Changed The Gaming Industry
While DLC’s (downloadable content) and microtransactions are a commonly accepted practice in the gaming community, they are also still highly controversial. Some lawmakers around the world have even condemned these types of business models, likening them to child-targeted gambling. In the United States, Republican Senator Josh Hawley has proposed a bipartisan bill that would ban a type of microtransaction in games aimed at minors.
The topic of DLC’s and microtransaction is also a hot topic among fans, with many saying that while these features can help a game, a lot of times, they feel like companies abuse these practices. We want to know: What are YOU, as a consumer, willing to pay for?