YouTuber MrBeast Responds to Criticism of Massive Tree Planting Project
- YouTuber MrBeast has launched a campaign to plant 20 million trees in celebration of reaching 20 million YouTube subscribers.
- The #TeamTrees project was created in collaboration with the Arbor Day Foundation, and for every $1 donation, the organization will plant one tree.
- Critics argued there are more immediate ways to address climate change, but MrBeast defended his project and the Arbor Day Foundation explained it was working with partners to plant trees responsibly.
To celebrate reaching 20 million subscribers on YouTube, MrBeast is spearheading a massive campaign to plant 20 million trees.
MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, is well known on YouTube for charitable stunts and crazy challenges involving huge sums of money. Earlier this year, a subscriber came up with the idea for MrBeast to plant 20 million trees, a request that quickly went viral.
In his latest video announcing the project, MrBeast said his fans spammed him with the request so often that he had to take on the challenge. He kicked off the campaign in Oregon by planting hundreds of trees with friends and fans in a large field. YouTuber Mark Rober, a former NASA engineer also joined in by using drones to plant trees.
But in order to reach his goal, MrBeast has collaborated with the Arbor Day Foundation – one of the largest nonprofit conservation organizations dedicated to planting trees. Together they launched the #TeamTrees website, where supporters can donate to the cause. For every $1 raised, one tree will be planted in an area of high need around the globe.
#TeamTrees hopes to reach its $20,000,000 goal by January 1, 2020. According to the site’s FAQ section, trees will be planted throughout 2020, with a completion goal of December 2022.
MrBeast pledged more than $100,000 himself and received support from other huge creators. On October 25 you might have seen dozen and dozens of videos flooding YouTube about the project, dominating the trending page, homepages, and recommendations.
Videos were shared by creators like Pewdiepie, Jacksepticeye, The Infographics Show, Guava Juice, The Try Guys, and several others. Huge donations were made by influencers like Jeffree Star, Ninja, Simply Nailogical, and Doctor Mike.
The list of supporters goes on and on, including big names like Safiya Nygard, The Slow Mo Guys, Marquees Brownlee, Jake Paul, and Casey Neitstat. According to The Verge, more than 600 YouTubers have expressed their support. YouTube even confirmed that they would cover all transaction fees for donations made on the platform.
Criticism of the Project
Despite massive praise for the campaign, MrBeast has seen some criticism from those who argue he should find more effective ways to fight climate change.
Some are specifically pointing out that it will take years before these new trees can make a considerable impact.
MrBeast responded to those comments saying, “Just to be clear we all realize 20 million trees won’t fix climate change. But at the end of the day 20 million more trees is better then 0! We want to take action because doing nothing is how we got here!”
Long term survival is key for trees to have an impact on our planet, so there must also be an effort to protect and nurture these new trees in order for them to help the environment. The Arbor Day Foundation’s director of public relations Danny Cohn said that some of the funds raised will be used to help maintain all of the trees planted.
“We’re just not planting and walking away,” he said. He explained to The Verge that the partners who work with the organization are all required to have plans to help their trees thrive.
The organization said that it’s not sure what the survival rate is for its trees since the foundation itself does not do the planting. But they say the US Forest Service, which it partners with, estimates a 3 percent mortality rate per year.
There have also been concerns that too many trees will be planted in the wrong places, which can actually be damaging to some ecosystems The Arbor Day Foundation addressed those concerns by noting that it partners with agencies like the US Forest Service, the National Park Service, and the National Association of State Foresters to ensure that they’re planting trees responsibly.
“That’s the first thing: right tree, right place,” Cohn said. “People are very concerned about invasive species, and we are very concerned about that as well.”
“We know that 20 million trees isn’t going to cure climate change, but the point here is to end this decade on a super strong note,” YouTuber Mark Rober said in a private campaign video to other creators. “It’s a constructive way to send a message to the politicians, ‘it’s freaking time to do something about climate change.’ Plus we just really love trees so this is like a fist pump to mother Earth.”
As of Monday morning, the campaign has earned about $5.7 million to plant trees around the globe, with that number steadily rising.
Schools Across the U.S. Cancel Classes Friday Over Unverified TikTok Threat
Officials in multiple states said they haven’t found any credible threats but are taking additional precautions out of an abundance of safety.
Schools in no fewer than 10 states either canceled classes or increased their police presence on Friday after a series of TikToks warned of imminent shooting and bombs threats.
Despite that, officials said they found little evidence to suggest the threats are credible. It’s possible no real threat was actually ever made as it’s unclear if the supposed threats originated on TikTok, another social media platform, or elsewhere.
“We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we’re working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok,” TikTok’s Communications team tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Still, given the uptick of school shootings in the U.S. in recent years, many school districts across the country decided to respond to the rumors. According to The Verge, some districts in California, Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas shut down Friday.
“Based on law enforcement interviews, Little Falls Community Schools was specifically identified in a TikTok post related to this threat,” one school district in Minnesota said in a letter Thursday. “In conversations with local law enforcement, the origins of this threat remain unknown. Therefore, school throughout the district is canceled tomorrow, Friday, December 17.”
In Gilroy, California, one high school that closed its doors Friday said it would reschedule final exams that were expected to take place the same day to January.
According to the Associated Press, several other districts in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania stationed more police officers at their schools Friday.
Viral Misinformation or Legitimate Warnings?
As The Verge notes, “The reports of threats on TikTok may be self-perpetuating.”
For example, many of the videos online may have been created in response to initial warnings as more people hopped onto the trend. Amid school cancellations, videos have continued to sprout up — many awash with both rumors and factual information.
“I’m scared off my ass, what do I do???” one TikTok user said in a now-deleted video, according to People.
“The post is vague and not directed at a specific school, and is circulating around school districts across the country,” Chicago Public Schools said in a letter, though it did not identify any specific post. “Please do not re-share any suspicious or concerning posts on social media.”
According to Dr. Amy Klinger, the director of programs for the nonprofit Educator’s School Safety Network, “This is not 2021 phenomenon.”
Instead, she told The Today Show that her network has been tracking school shooting threats since 2013, and she noted that in recent years, they’ve become more prominent on social media.
“It’s not just somebody in a classroom of 15 people hearing someone make a threat,” she said. “It’s 15,000 people on social media, because it gets passed around and it becomes larger and larger and larger.”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Associated Press) (People)
Jake Paul Says He “Can’t Get Cancelled” as a Boxer
The controversial YouTuber opened up about what it has been like to go from online fame to professional boxing.
The New Yorker Profiles Jake Paul
YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul talked about his career switch, reputation, and cancel culture in a profile published Monday in The New Yorker.
While Paul rose to fame as the Internet’s troublemaker, he now spends most of his time in the ring. He told the outlet that one difference between YouTube and boxing is that his often controversial reputation lends better to his new career.
“One thing that is great about being a fighter is, like, you can’t get cancelled,” Paul said. The profile noted that the sport often rewards and even encourages some degree of bad behavior.
“I’m not a saint,” Paul later continued. “I’m also not a bad guy, but I can very easily play the role.”
Paul also said the other difference between his time online and his time in boxing is the level of work. While he says he trains hard, he confessed that there was something more challenging about making regular YouTube content.
“Being an influencer was almost harder than being a boxer,” he told The New Yorker. “You wake up in the morning and you’re, like, Damn, I have to create fifteen minutes of amazing content, and I have twelve hours of sunlight.”
Jake Paul Vs. Tommy Fury
The New Yorker profile came just after it was announced over the weekend Paul will be fighting boxer Tommy Fury in an 8-round cruiserweight fight on Showtime in December.
“It’s time to kiss ur last name and ur family’s boxing legacy goodbye,” Paul tweeted. “DEC 18th I’m changing this wankers name to Tommy Fumbles and celebrating with Tom Brady.”
Both Paul and Fury are undefeated, according to ESPN. Like Paul, Fury has found fame outside of the sport. He has become a reality TV star in the U.K. after appearing on the hit show “Love Island.”
See what others are saying: (The New Yorker) (Dexerto) (ESPN)
Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos
The hack appears to be a form of trolling, though it’s possible that the infiltrators were able to uncover a security flaw while reviewing Twitch’s newly-leaked source code.
Hackers targeted Twitch for a second time this week, but rather than leaking sensitive information, the infiltrators chose to deface the platform on Friday by swapping multiple background images with a photo of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
According to those who saw the replaced images firsthand, the hack appears to have mostly — and possibly only — affected game directory headers. Though the incident appears to be nothing more than a surface-level prank, as Amazon owns Twitch, it could potentially signal greater security flaws.
For example, it’s possible the hackers could have used leaked internal security data from earlier this week to discover a network vulnerability and sneak into the platform.
The latest jab at the platforms came after Twitch assured its users it has seen “no indication” that their login credentials were stolen during the first hack. Still, concerns have remained regarding the potential for others to now spot cracks in Twitch’s security systems.
It’s also possible the Bezos hack resulted from what’s known as “cache poisoning,” which, in this case, would refer to a more limited form of hacking that allowed the infiltrators to manipulate similar images all at once. If true, the hackers likely would not have been able to access Twitch’s back end.
The photo changes only lasted several hours before being returned to their previous conditions.
First Twitch Hack
Despite suspicions and concerns, it’s unclear whether the Bezos hack is related to the major leak of Twitch’s internal data that was posted to 4chan on Wednesday.
That leak exposed Twitch’s full source code — including its security tools — as well as data on how much Twitch has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019.
It also revealed Amazon’s at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library, codenamed Vapor, which would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.
Even though Twitch has said its login credentials appear to be secure, it announced Thursday that it has reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Users are still being urged to change their passwords and update or implement two-factor authentication if they haven’t already.