- E3 apologized for leaking the names, phone numbers, email addresses, and home addresses of more than 2,000 YouTubers, journalists, and analysts who received press passes for the 2019 E3 conference.
- The data was temporarily accessible in a downloadable Excel sheet on the E3 website.
- Those who had their information leaked say they have fallen victim to prank texts and calls, with several reporting threats involving references to their homes.
- Some are calling for a class-action lawsuit, and lawyers say the severity of the threats could provide substantial grounds for a case against the Entertainment Software Association.
Data Leaked on E3 Website
The private information of 2,025 YouTubers, journalists, and Wall Street analysts was leaked after E3 posted a downloadable link with that data to its website.
The link was titled “Registered Media List” and could be found on the “Helpful Links” page. Information within it included names, phone numbers, email addresses, and even the home addresses of those who received press badges to attend this year’s June convention.
“[Entertainment Software Association] was made aware of a website vulnerability that led to the contact list of registered journalists attending E3 being made public,” the association said in a written statement released Saturday. “Once notified, we immediately took steps to protect that data and shut down the site, which is no longer available. We regret this occurrence and have put measures in place to ensure it will not occur again.”
Even after ESA deleted the “Helpful Links” page on Friday, anyone using a Google cached version of the page could have still accessed the confidential Excel spreadsheet. The original file has since been completely deleted, but a copy has already been distributed in online forums.
On Saturday, the ESA also began reaching out to those affected.
“We provide ESA members and exhibitors a media list on a password-protected exhibitor site so they can invite you to E3 press events, connect with you for interviews, and let you know what they are showcasing,” the ESA said in its message. “For more than 20 years there has never been an issue. When we found out, we took down the E3 exhibitor portal and ensured the media list was no longer available on the E3 website.”
As of Monday, visiting the page results in a 404 Error.
So far, the ESA has not commented on how the dox occurred.
YouTuber Sophia Narwitz first broke the story on Friday and claims to have reached out to the ESA within 30 minutes of learning of the leak.
“In an era of swatting and much worse, it is a colossal fuck-up that the ESA would mishandle data in this capacity,” Narwitz said in a YouTube video.
Several YouTubers said they have already fallen victim to spam calls and texts. Many worry that the leak — particularly of private addresses — could lead to more dangerous consequences.
A few journalists have indicated that they have personally received threatening emails with their home addresses or photos of their homes.
“That [the ESA] would put people at risk in this capacity is beyond my understanding,” Narwitz said.
Narwitz cited incidents involving a journalist’s assault by an Antifa group, mass shootings by individuals with far-right ideologies, and general toxic culture spurred by internet trolls.
Many have been critical of the ESA over the information breach.
Several gamers have even called for a class-action lawsuit against the ESA for leaking their private information, with many criticizing the ESA’s use of the phrase “website vulnerability” when the file was uploaded to the website rather than obtained through hacking.
Stephen McArthur, who uses the moniker “The Video Game Lawyer,” told Game Daily the ESA will “almost certainly” face a lawsuit by the end of August for failure to exercise reasonable care with the information.
Though lawyers have said the case could gain traction in court because of the threats journalists have experienced, attorney Sarah Wesley Wheaton said the ESA is not likely to lose a case involving password protection and lack of security.
“There has never been a successful case against a company for failing to impose strict enough login credentials and I assume similar reasoning will apply [here],” she told Game Daily. “While there weren’t any login credentials in ESA’s case, because the personal information seems mostly limited to names and addresses and did not include social security information or other embarrassing personal information, the lack of encrypted spreadsheets would likely not be considered unfair by the FTC.”
The ESA will need to report the dox to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has the power to launch an investigation.
See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (PCMag) (Kotaku)
James Charles Denies Grooming Allegations
- Over the weekend, a 16-year-old who goes by Isaiyah accused 21-year-old YouTuber James Charles of grooming him.
- Isaiyah shared censored versions of nude photos James allegedly sent him as well as Snapchat messages showing the YouTuber allegedly asking for explicit photos.
- James denied the accusations, saying Isaiyah initiated contact with him, sent lewd photos first, and told him he was 18. James also claimed that once he learned Isaiyah was 16, he stopped contact, though Isaiyah insists this is not the case.
- Since then, two more people have come forward with their own stories detailing situations where they felt James acted inappropriately with them.
James Charles Accused of Grooming
James Charles is denying grooming allegations after a 16-year-old posted videos accusing the YouTuber of sending and asking for explicit photos.
The accuser, who goes by Isaiyah, shared his allegations in videos on both Twitter and TikTok last week. On the latter platform, he has over 260,000 followers.
Isaiyah claims that he and James began talking on Snapchat on February 17, and he hoped the conversation would give him a chance to interact with an influencer he looked up to. However, Isaiah says James ended up making their conversation sexual.
He shared photos of their interactions, including one snap where James is allegedly asking for Isaiyah to send videos taken in the shower. In another, James appears to mention Isaiyah’s genitals and says, “I bet you can make me finish just by flexing and showing off your hair.”
Isaiyah also shared censored nude and partially nude images that James allegedly sent, which he says prompted him to tell the YouTuber he is only 16.
“I was getting really uncomfortable so I told him my age and I told him I was 16 and meanwhile, he’s 21, he’s a grown man,” Isaiyah said in the video. “And then he proceeds to say, ‘oh but I didn’t get to see the….yet’ meaning my body. And after telling him no, like I’m not going to send it to you, like, he kept asking for videos and pictures of body hair and me flexing and stuff.”
Even after this, Isaiyah claims James still asked to FaceTime with him. He ultimately said the interaction left him seeing James in a new way.
“I’ve heard multiple stories about him doing this to people but you never believe it until it happens to you,” Isaiyah said. “So now, I’m a big believer of what James Charles does to other people.”
Both TikTok and Twitter have since removed the videos detailing these accusations, according to Insider.
James Charles Denies Allegations
On Friday, James took to Twitter to tell his side of the story. He called the grooming accusations “completely false.” He then said he found Isaiyah on Instagram’s explore page.
He said he noticed that Isaiyah followed him, so he decided to add him on Snapchat. James also claims he woke up to multiple messages from Isaiyah saying how excited he was to speak to him, as well as lewd photos from him.
“I asked how old he was right away and he told me he was 18 so I started flirting back,” James continued, adding that he never saw ID to verify his age.
“It’s now clear, based on the video he uploaded, he was taking photos of me with another device, and had an ulterior motive from the beginning,” he continued.
“Later in the day, he said a few things that made me question the validity of his original age answer and when I asked him to confirm his age once again, he admitted he was 16.”
“I told him I was really uncomfortable and apologized for flirting, but he insisted on continuing talking, saying it could be our little secret, he’s a fan of mine and would never tell anyone,” the post continued. “I told him I wasn’t okay with this, he started getting upset, and at this point I unfriended him. We haven’t spoken since.”
James wrote that he was not trying to victim blame or make himself out as the victim, but instead wanted to share his story because he has dealt with accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior in the past. Moving forward, he stressed that he will ask people for their ID or passports to verify their age before speaking with them.
Isaiyah shot back at James’ statement and insisted the popular influencer was well aware of his age.
“James we both know I blocked you, you never asked for my age. After I told you I was 16 you proceeded to ask me for nudes and said it didn’t matter,” he wrote. “You called me hot and said ‘I wish the timeline could speed up so you can be 18.’”
James we both know I blocked you, you never asked for my age. After I told you I was 16 you proceeded to ask me for nudes and said it didn’t matter. You called me hot and said “I wish the timeline could speed up so you can be 18.” pic.twitter.com/60QGI8jtLx— Isaiyah (@Isaiyah13) February 26, 2021
“If you’re gonna text someone, make sure you know their age,” he added in another tweet. “He added me on insta, my insta has my tik tok which shows me age.”
In another post, he said he would be contacting the police about the situation.
More People Speak Out
At least two more people have since come forward with their own stories about James over the weekend. One said on Twitter that they told James they were 17-years-old, but the YouTuber still flirted with them on social media.
They said nothing sexual happened; however, it still felt weird, making them feel compelled to share the story as others were speaking out. Those tweets have since been deleted.
Another person, who goes by LifeOfUzzy on Twitter, said they had a “disgusting” experience with James. In a lengthy Twitter thread, he shared screenshots of their messages and a video his brother recorded of him opening a Snapchat from James as proof of their interactions. He claims that things started out fine but took a turn when James began flirting.
“We started talking for a little and he was actually A VERY NICE person the first few days. He told me he wasn’t looking for anything until he started calling me ‘daddy’ and ‘babe,’ LifeOfUzzy wrote.
He then shared a video of James allegedly spamming him, asking to do a video call, and apparently asking him to do “disgusting things.”
LifeOfUzzy wrote that after James allegedly used him for “sexual pleasure,” he sent James a message ending things and asking him to delete the pictures he screenshotted.
LifeOfUzzy explained more details in a series of TikToks and a YouTube video, claiming he was just looking to get to know James, but that James clearly had no interest in this and was asking him for specific and explicit pictures. He said James stopped talking to him after declined.
James has not responded to these two newer allegations yet.
See what others are saying: (Insider) (Cosmopolitan) (Dexerto)
Former Member of David Dobrik’s Vlog Squad Says He Was Sexually Assaulted by Jason Nash on Video
- Former Vlog Squad member Seth Francois says he was sexually assaulted in a 2017 prank that YouTubers David Dobrik and Jason Nash pulled on him.
- Francois agreed to be in a video where he would make out with fellow Vlog Squad member Corinna Kopf while she was disguised as an old man. However, the costumed person he actually kissed was 45-year-old Nash.
- In 2018, Dobrik pulled a nearly identical prank on Francois again, despite Francois repeatedly stating he was not okay with what happened.
- Francois says he is not trying to “cancel” anyone but his attempts to resolve the matter behind closed doors with Dobrik have not been successful, so he felt he had to tell his story publicly.
Seth Francois Calls Kissing Prank Sexual Assault
Former Vlog Squad member Seth Francois says he was sexually assaulted in a prank that massive YouTuber David Dobrik pulled on him with fellow creator Jason Nash.
Francois first told his story to Ethan and Hila Klein on the H3 Podcast on Feb. 12. The prank in question happened in 2017. At the time, Dobrik asked Francois if he wanted to be in a video where he made out with Corinna Kopf while she was disguised as an old man. Francois agreed, but when he kissed the costumed person, Kopf was not the one behind the mask. Instead, it was 45-year-old Nash.
“I was touched by someone I did not consent to,” Francois said on the podcast.
He told BuzzFeed News that it felt wrong when it happened, but as more time passed, he began to feel even worse. He decided to call a sexual assault hotline to talk about and processs the situation.
“They said, ‘I’m sorry you were sexually assaulted.’ And I broke down,” Francois told the outlet. “I called my mother and some of my close friends and I said, ‘I can’t believe that happened to me.'”
Francois said Dobrik asked if they could make a similar video again, but Francois refused, explaining he did not like the prank and did not want to have to go through that again. Still, in 2018 Dobrik ended up pulling a nearly identical stunt.
The second time, Dobrik told Francois that they were making a commercial for Jack Link’s Jerky, which Francois was thrilled about. When Francois got to the set, there were people in gorilla costumes, and he was instructed to make out with one. When that person took their mask off, it was Nash again.
Francois said this incident ultimately led to him moving out of Los Angeles.
Jack Link’s Jerky has since tweeted that they were not involved in the stunt and do not condone any non-consensual conduct that occurred.
Other Allegations Against Dobrik and The Vlog Squad
On top of all this, Francois said that during his time in the Vlog Squad, he was pressured to participate in racist jokes that played into stereotypes about Black people. He felt he could not say no to these bits.
“It was an unwritten thing where you see a pattern of people saying, ‘Yo, I’m uncomfortable with this,’ and all of a sudden they disappear and they’re not in videos anymore,” he explained on the H3 Podcast.
These are just the latest in a series of accusations former Vlog Squad members have made about Dobrik, Nash, and group’s general culture. Nik Keswani, known to fans as Big Nik, explained to H3 that the group was “toxic” and like a cult. Keswani said that he was bullied and felt forced to make jokes about his own size, which led to other people thinking they could make fun of him in cruel ways.
YouTuber Trisha Paytas has also accused Dobrik and Nash of inappropriate behavior on multiple occasions. Both she and Francois also say they have heard rumors about Nash assaulting other people or sleeping with minors. In some cases, Paytas says victims have contacted her directly about it.
Dobrik has not commented on the sexual assault allegations brought up by Francois, but over the summer he did issue a general apology for offensive content he had posed in his past.
“I want them to have a positive experience when they interact with anything I produce,” he said on his podcast, “Views.”
“And with that being said, I feel like on a handful of occasions I just missed the mark on that, and that really bums me out.”
Why Francois Is Speaking Out
For a long time, Dobrik has been a top creator on YouTube. He is known for his Tesla giveaways and was dubbed Gen Z’s Jimmy Fallon by The Wall Street Journal. Francois said he felt the need to speak out because he fears Dobrik is not remorseful and is unaware of the harm he has caused.
“If [Dobrik and Nash] don’t know what’s wrong and they don’t understand that what they did was wrong, it makes me feel like that could still happen. Or maybe it has happened to other people who are afraid of speaking up,” he told BuzzFeed.
Francois said that he has asked for the videos to be removed, but Dobrik tried to offer him cash to keep them up. Dobrik eventually unlisted both prank videos and later privated the second one.
Francois has since tried to resolve the matter privately but has not gotten a response from Dobrik. He told Insider that his goal in speaking up is not to “cancel” anyone, though he felt he had no option but to make the matter public. He is now also considering legal action, which is a path he initially did not want to go down.
“People were saying I’ve betrayed David, but I feel like he betrayed me,” he told the outlet. “I was very hurt and even right now talking about it, it really makes you want to cry.”
“They profited off causing me a lot of mental trauma, which is something that really hurts to know,” he continued.
Now, people are calling for Dobrik to respond to the allegations. Many are starting to see his content in a new light and believe he should issue an apology.
See what others are saying: (BuzzFeed News) (Insider) (Yahoo)
Australia Strikes Deal With Facebook To Restore News on the Platform
- Facebook said Monday that it will restore news access to Australian users after striking a deal with the country.
- Last week, Facebook cut off all access to news on the platform in Australia in response to a proposed law that would force it to pay media publishers for hosting their content.
- In the days that followed, the Australian government offered several concessions to the proposed law, including giving the platform more time to lock down deals with media publishers.
- Per another amendment, it’s also possible that Facebook could largely escape the law altogether if it is able to strike enough deals with local media organizations.
Facebook Will Restore News
Facebook struck a deal with Australian lawmakers Monday to restore news on the platform in the country.
The announcement comes as a quick turnaround from last week when Facebook made good on a threat to block all forms of news in Australia. Notably, that ban was in response to the expected passing of a law requiring large tech companies to pay media publishers for content that appears on their platforms.
On top of blocking all news organizations in the country, Facebook also blocked all Australian outlets globally. In fact, the ban even seemed to target non-news sources, such as state health departments and Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology.
After several days of discussions between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Facebook seems to be content with several negotiated changes to the proposed law.
“We have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers,” Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships at Facebook, said.
Among those changes, Facebook will receive more time to lock down deals with publishers instead of being forced into immediately making payments. The original draft of the law would have required Facebook to pay for content (ie. headlines, links, etc.) based upon terms set by a government-appointed arbitrator.
Now, that third party will only intervene as a “last resort,” according to Facebook spokesperson Adam Isserlis in an interview with NBC News.
One amendment in the proposed law could also give Facebook a shot at skirting it all together. That’s because it stipulates that digital platforms which have significantly contributed to the Australian news industry could receive exemptions.
Facebook, for example, might be able to find such an exemption if it brokers enough deals with local publishers.
Facebook said news should be restored for Australian users in the coming days.