- 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)
PewDiePie Cancels 50K ADL Donation
- PewDiePie has decided not to gift $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, a group devoted to fighting anti-Semitism and hate, after his fans spread conspiracy theories about his previous plans to donate.
- Fans online believed he was blackmailed into writing a check to the group, as they associate it with YouTube’s initiative to take town hate speech content.
- After seeing the online backlash, PewDiePie said he chose the organization because he was advised to, and will instead donate the money to a group he feels excited about.
PewDiePie Calls Donation a “Mistake”
One day after pledging $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, a group devoted to fighting against anti-Semitism and bigotry, PewDiePie is taking back the offer.
Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, the most popular solo YouTube creator, uploaded a video to his channel on Thursday announcing his decision. When Kjellberg first said he would be donating to the ADL in a video celebrating 100 million subscribers, he was met with mixed reactions from his fans.
“I made the mistake of picking a charity that I was advised, instead of picking a charity that I’m personally passionate about,” Kjellberg said in the video. “Which is 100 percent my fault. Usually, when I pick a charity I take my time, I find a charity that I’m really excited about and actually passionate to donate to.”
The ADL’s Reputation Among Fans
The ADL’s mission is to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Its site also says it fights threats to democracy, including cyberhate, bullying, and biases in schools and in the criminal justice system, among other issues.
Many of Kjellberg’s fans and other YouTube users, however, attribute the ADL to content removal on the platform. YouTube has worked with the group on its initiative to take down content involving hate speech and online extremism. Some of these fans see it as censorship.
The ADL also applauded Disney for ending its relationship with Kjellberg in 2017 after the YouTuber uploaded content with anti-Semitic imagery. Kjellberg apologized for his video and took the content in question down.
Still, fans did not understand why he would make a donation to them after this incident. Many spread conspiracy theories on Twitter that he was being blackmailed into making the donation.
PewDiePie Seeks to Address Situations like Christchurch
At the time, Kjellberg said he “wanted to show publicly that I can move past it and move on.” In a statement on Twitter, he also added he wanted to distance himself from events like the shooting in Christchurch, where the alleged gunman said his name before killing 51 people and injuring 49 more. His statement has since been deleted, but he elaborated on this idea in Thursday’s video.
“To be fair, I saw it as an opportunity to put an end to these alt-right claims that have been thrown against me. It wasn’t to try to clear my name or save grace, if it was I would have done it years ago,” Kjellberg said.
“But after the Christchurch tragedy, I felt a responsibility to do something about it because it’s no longer just about me, it affected other people in a way and I’m not okay with that.”
He added that he has struggled with learning how to address this situation, and ultimately decided this was not the answer. He later said that he saw information surface about the group that did not “fit at all.” Instead, he will donate to a different charity.
“It really doesn’t feel genuine for me to proceed with the donation at this point and I, instead, I actually wanted to take my time, keep the intent that I had, but just doing it with the right charity and doing it properly,” he said.
The ADL gave a statement to Fox News on Thursday about the incident, saying they only knew as much as the public did.
“ADL learned about the potential donation from Felix Kjellberg when everyone else did: when he made the announcement on his channel earlier this week,” the statement read. “We have not received any communication from him beyond his public posts.”
David Dobrik and Other Stars Criticized for “Tone-Deaf” 9/11 Content
- YouTuber David Dobrik set his Tuesday vlog to private after facing backlash over a plane crash skit included in the video.
- Some viewers argued the skit was insensitive because it was posted the day before the 18th anniversary of 9/11.
- Meanwhile, others defended the creator by noting that the video did not make any jokes about terrorists or references to 9/11.
Dobrik’s Plane Crash Skit
YouTube vlogger David Dobrik quickly marked his Sept. 10 vlog as private after viewers criticized a plane crash skit it featured ahead of the 18th anniversary the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Dobrik, head of the popular group known as the Vlog Squad, titled his Tuesday vlog “Airplane Seat Was Not Attached Properly!” The video begins with two of his friends sitting in a row of seats, which then falls over. Another friend standing nearby then delivers the punchline: “Spirit airlines be like.”
Later, another skit in the plane shows YouTuber Jason Nash running into the main cabin dressed as the captain and joking about the plane crashing.
“It can’t be fixed, man,” Nash jokes. “This fucker’s going down… Hey, guys, it’s your captain speaking. I got some bad news and some good news. Bad news is, we’re crash landing. Good news is we’re going to be on the ground a lot sooner than expected.”
“We’re fucked, Scott!” Nash continues. “This shit’s going down, bro! I told you to bring more gas!”
Numerous copies of Dobrik’s video have circulated on the internet since the creator set it to private.
People quickly denounced the video as tone-deaf and called it insensitive to post just before 9/11.
“Usually I dont have comments about YouTube videos but @DavidDobrik should’ve really rethought posting a @jasonnash skit about a plane crashing on the eve of September 11th,” one person tweeted. “Very sensitive, emotional time for alot of people. #vlogsquad“
Others, however, jumped to Dobrik’s defense, noting that he was young when 9/11 occurred and that his videos are usually filmed in advance.
“Give DavidDobrik a break!” one Twitter user wrote. “1. he was like 5 when 9/11 happened. 2. The skit had nothing to do with a plane being taken over by terrorists.”
Besides marking the video private, neither Dobrik nor Nash have made any public statements about the skit. It’s also unknown whether Dobrik plans to keep the post on private, take it off private later, or delete it altogether.
Similar Backlash Over 9/11 Posts
Dobrik’s not the only star currently facing backlash for social media posts tied to 9/11. On Wednesday, a photo shared on reality star Kristin Cavallari’s Instagram showed her standing in the streets of New York. The post included a caption that read: “NYC for 24hrs. And what a time to be here..always remember.”
Cavallari was in New York for fashion week, but many accused her of posting a hollow reference to 9/11 while posing.
“Let me show off my body and then make a half ass remark about 911. WTF,” one person commented on her posted.
“I’m sorry that you had to choose such a solemn occasion to decide to make a fashion statement,” another person said.
Others also flooded the post’s comments, calling it disrespectful, insensitive, and in poor taste.
Cavallari then changed the caption to just “NYC for 24hrs.”
She later said she fired the staffer who wrote the caption, with reports saying the employee had changed an already-approved caption before posting.
Former Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham also caught heat for referring to 9/11 as “7-Eleven” in a YouTube video.
However, the comment appears to be a slip-up as in the same video, she correctly calls the day September 11th several times but once refers to the day as “7-Eleven,” apparently without noticing her mistake.
Abraham has not responded to similar criticism she’s faced.
PewDiePie’s $50K ADL Donation Prompts Mixed Reactions
- PewDiePie announced Tuesday that he was donating $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, a group that fights anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hate.
- However, some of his fans associate the group with YouTube’s initiative to remove content involving hate speech. Many also pointed out that the ADL was supportive of Disney’s choice to cut ties with PewDiePie in 2017.
- This led fans to believe that PewDiePie was being blackmailed into making this donation.
- PewDiePie eventually addressed these theories by saying he did this to show he was moving on from his past.
PewDiePie Donates to ADL
YouTuber PewDiePie has explained why he chose to donate to the Anti-Defamation League after his fans spread conspiracy theories suggesting he was blackmailed into doing so.
Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, posted a video on Tuesday in celebration of reaching 100 million YouTube subscribers, which makes him the most followed solo-creator on the platform. In the video, he reminisced on his online journey, unboxed his award from YouTube, and announced a donation to the ADL.
“As an additional celebration, I’m donating $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, which is an organization that fights bigotry and prejudice in all its forms,” Kjellberg said.
Conspiracy Theories Spread
The ADL was founded in 1913 with the goal of fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of hate. Many of Kjellberg’s fans, however, associate the group with YouTube’s initiative to remove content involving hate speech, as the platform has cited it as one of the many organizations it was working with the fight extremism. His fans believe the content removal to be a form of censorship.
Other fans also cited that the ADL was supportive of Disney’s decision to cut ties with Kjellberg back in 2017. Because of this, many fans were surprised that Kjellberg donated to the group.
“Wow, did the king of youtube just cave to those who wish to destroy him?” asked one user in the comments.
Other users believed that Kjellberg was blackmailed into giving the donation. Many commented messages like “Anti-Defamation League blackmailing PewDiePie,” using emojis in place of letters because they believed comments directly mentioning the ADL were being taken down.
Users on the PewDiePie subreddit believed comments about the ADL donation were being taken down on that platform as well. Many even claimed the ADL was responsible for this.
Users Don’t Believe Conspiracy Theories
These, however, were just fan-based conspiracy theories. Other users online did not believe them and thought the donation meant something else to Kjellberg.
Many saw it has his way of responding to recent tragedies, like the shooting in Christchurch, where the alleged attacker said “Subscribe to PewDiePie” before committing the act. YouTuber Roberto Blake said it was Kjellberg’s “way of setting the record straight.”
Others saw the donation as a way for him to “rehabilitate his image.”
It’s pretty clear that Felix was just trying to rehabilitate his image via the ADL donation. It’s sort of funny how the dumber reactionaries can’t see that.— Sonya Sable (@sable_sonya) September 11, 2019
Some were very critical of the fact that fans jumped so quickly to conspiracy theories, and even accused them of hypocrisy.
Others sent messages to Kjellberg to thank him for making a donation, believing it was a sign of maturity.
These varied reactions and conspiracy theories did not go unnoticed. Kjellberg’s editor, Sive Morten, tweeted a meme about the theories and asked followers to “seriously, stop lol.”
Kjellberg addressed the situation himself on Twitter Wednesday morning. He claimed that mainstream media coverage of him did not bother him in the past, but in recent months, this has changed.
“After the Christ Church travesty a few months ago, my own clash with MSM was manipulated as a tool for destruction,” he wrote. “I’m not okay with this situation any longer and I’ve felt responsibility to make changes.”
“Making a donation to ADL doesn’t make sense to everyone, especially since they’ve outright spoken against me,” he added. “I wanted to show publicly that I can move past it and move on.”
While some fans still responded with criticism and skepticism to his statement, others were pleased Kjellberg wanted to take this step.