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MrBeast, Jeffree Star, and FaZe Clan Received Coronavirus Relief Loans

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  • Jeffree Star, MrBeast, and FaZe Clan all received Paycheck Protection Program loans designed to help small businesses during the pandemic, according to a ProPublica database that tracks the disbursement of the federal loans.
  • MrBeast and Star both received loans ranging from $350,000 to $1 million, and FaZe Clan confirmed they had received $1.1 million.
  • Representatives for FaZe Clan and MrBeast defended the move in statements to Mashable and said they were concerned about the future of their financial situations and the loss of brand deals when they applied.
  • The move prompted backlash from people who argued the money should have gone to small businesses that needed it to survive, not wealthy creators.
  • Others, however, said that the government is responsible for who receives PPP loans. In fact, the program has received significant criticism in the past for giving loans to wealthy and politically connected organizations at the expense of small businesses in high need.

PPP Loans to Big Creators

Companies belonging to YouTube creators Jeffree Star and MrBeast as well as the esports organization FaZe Clan all received federal loans intended to help small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

The loans were given as part of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was signed into law under the CARES Act.

Reports about these specific creators were first reported on Wednesday by Mashable, which found the information in a searchable  ProPublica database that tracks all the PPP money that has been doled out.

According to the database, Jeffree Star Cosmetics was approved for a loan ranging from $350,000 to $1 million on May 3. MrBeast YouTube LLC was approved for a loan in the same range about a month earlier on April 14. The PPP application for FaZe Clan Inc was accepted at the end of April, for a loan ranging from $1 to $2 million.

“MrBeast and Jeffree Star’s loans are particularly surprising because both YouTubers have built brands on luxury and extravagance,” Mashable reported. 

“As thousands of small businesses struggle to stay afloat amid continued social distancing restrictions, YouTubers and other online figures are still able to safely churn out content. Immensely successful companies like Jeffree Star’s and FaZe Clan are hardly the brands hurting the most right now.”

Breakdown of Loans

To support those claims, the article goes on to give a more detailed look at the finances of each company and creator.

Staring with MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, Mashable detailed the frequent and hefty giveaways the creator often holds.

“[He] frequently gives away cash prizes, cars, and most recently, a private island through outlandish stunts,” the outlet reported, noting that he has been described as “YouTube’s viral philanthropist,” and detailing some of his more recent big charitable giveaways.

In June, MrBeast pledged to split a $150,000 donation to organizations supporting racial justice and police reform as well as several small businesses. As for how much PPP money his company got, a representative who talked to Mashable did not say, but the outlet reported MrBeast YouTube LLC received a total of $377,000.

“Multiple sponsors pulled out of projects, our advertising revenue plummeted by 70 percent, and we had numerous finished videos we couldn’t post,” the representative explained to Mashable. “We didn’t have access to testing, so we also had no idea at the time when we would be able to produce new content. We felt this was the best avenue that would help us weather the storm.”

The spokesperson also said that that the company is different from MrBeast’s personal accounts, and added that “all charitable donations, including a $150,000 to Black Lives Matter and $250,000 to SpecialEffect of course did not come from company resources.”

As for Jeffree Star, Mashable points to the wealth he has accumulated from his makeup empire. In 2018, Star was listed on Forbes’ highest-paid YouTubers. That year, he reportedly brought in $18 million and Jeffree Star Cosmetics was worth an estimated $100 million.

The article does note that Star likely took a hit because Morphe cut ties with him, but that happened after he was approved for the loan on May 3.

Regarding FaZe Clan, Mashable reported that the organization is valued at $240 million and ranks fourth on Forbes’ most valuable esports companies. As for how much money they got, the head of communications for the organization confirmed that they had received $1.1 million. 

Notably, the outlet also pointed out that in early April— just a few weeks before they were given that loan— FaZe Clan announced that they had  “closed out a $40 million funding round that also secured an exclusive partnership with NTWRK, an e-commerce platform that also works with Nike and Puma.” 

At the time, FaZe Clan CEO Lee Trink told Forbes that despite the circumstances, “we are fortunate we are in the right industry for a moment like this, when everyone is turning to esports and streaming, and we are positioned to be bigger on the other side of it.”

In a statement to Mashable, Trink defended taking the PPP loan.

“As a growing business, we continued to expand our staff in January. We are grateful for the PPP loan because it has allowed us to retain 100 percent of our employees despite having to reduce our revenue projection by many millions in esports alone due to the pandemic,” he said.

“It has always been our intention to repay the loan in full and we plan to as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Response

Many peopled responded to the news on social media and expressed anger that these companies had received money set aside for small businesses.

Others also took specific aim at MrBeast, asking why he would take money from the government that had been designated for struggling companies if he had enough personal wealth to be giving away his own money.

“Small businesses desperately applying for PPP loans and shutting down after not receiving it are victims of the actions of Mr. Beast and others like him,” one Twitter user wrote. “He has no right to take govt money and then re-give out to those he deems worthy. That’s simply powerful ppl playing with $$”

On the other side, some people also said that MrBeast deserved the loan because he helps people. Others still argued that these companies and creators are not directly to blame and that its really on the government to decide who the loans go to.

From early on, the Trump administration has received significant backlash over its handling of the PPP loan disbursements, specifically in regards to who has received them and who has not.

When the money was first being sent out, massive outrage spread over the fact that Shake Shack received a $10 million PPP loan, which it eventually gave back. Since then, there has also been anger around other big recipients like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, the Catholic Church, and the Lakers.

Companies owned by wealthy celebrities like Khloe Kardashian, Kanye West, and Reese Witherspoon have also drawn ire for receiving PPP aid.

Problems From the Top

While some have argued that those people never should have applied in the first place, there is also hard evidence showing tons of issues with how this money has been allocated from the top down.

Earlier this month, a House oversight committee concluded that thousands of PPP loans were given to companies that should not have received them. 

According to a report released just last Tuesday by the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, the Trump administration gave hundreds of loans to companies that did not even fill out complete applications, as well as nearly $100 million to companies that were ineligible for the loans because they had been banned from working with the federal government.

Other studies and reports have found that many large companies got loans before small businesses, who were largely left out of the first round of loan distributions despite needing the money the most. 

For example, economists at the University of Chicago and MIT found that just 15% of companies in the areas “most affected by declines in hours worked and business shutdowns” received PPP funding, but in areas least affected, 30% of companies received PPP funding. 

Even beyond all of that, there are a ton of problems with the data and records of the loans that not only call into question how the program is managed but also how effective it has been in helping companies keep employees on their payroll.

According to a recent report by The Los Angeles Times, out of the roughly 4.9 million loans awarded as of July, over 550,000 approved applications listed zero jobs retained, and over 320,000 left it blank entirely. Seven loans even listed negative jobs retained. 

The Times also reported that many small businesses were approved for loans much bigger than what they actually recieved and that there was no explanation for the discrepancy in the data.

Both Democrats and Republicans have pushed for another round of PPP funding in the next coroanvirus stimulus bill, but without a massive overhaul to the system and increased accountability measures, many are concerned the loans will continue to be improperly allocated.

See what others are saying: (Mashable) (Insider) (The Los Angeles Times)

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Twitter Verifies the Wrong Account After Pledging To Improve Its Verification Process

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  • Twitter issued verifications to a number of large-scale gamers and streamers on Wednesday, including Corpse Husband, whose content has recently seen a massive surge in popularity because of his Among Us plays.
  • Still, it left out many other figures, such as Dream and CallMeCarson, who have millions of followers each.
  • In a notable blunder, Twitter also accidentally verified the wrong Karl Jacobs. The correct Karl Jacobs, a Twitch streamer with nearly 800,000 followers, was later given verification. Until Thursday afternoon, the incorrect Jacobs retained verification.
  • The confusion over this wave of verifications follows Twitter’s recent pledge to relaunch applications for verifications after pausing the program in 2017 when it verified a white supremacist.

Twitter Verifies the Wrong Account 

On Wednesday, Twitter verified Twitch streamer Karl Jacobs, who has nearly 800,000 followers on the platform and has frequently appeared in videos with mega-creator Mr.Beast. Or rather, Twitter tried to verify him.

It actually ended up verifying a different Karl Jacobs, the owner of a seemingly random account that only had about 200 followers at the time. 

“THEY VERIFIED THE WRONG KARL JACOBS,” streamer Karl Jacobs said in a tweet that was soon followed up by a response from Mr.Beast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson. 

“LMAO THATS THE FUNNIEST THING IVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE,” Donaldson said. 

About 30 minutes later, Jacobs confirmed that Twitter had partially corrected its mistake and verified his account by giving it a blue checkmark. Twitter did not fully rectify their mistake until Thursday afternoon when it finally removed the verification for the account for the random Karl Jacobs.

Jacob’s verification was part of a mass verification of gamers and other streamers on Wednesday. While the platform gave blue checkmarks to a number of top creators (such as fast-growing creator Corpse Husband), it also seemingly skipped over several other major creators with millions of followers each. 

Some fans were upset that streamers such as Sykkuno, who has 1.8 million followers on Twitch and almost 750,000 of Twitter, appeared to be ignored in the wave of verifications. They argued that he should already meet Twitter’s standards for being verified, as he’s an account of “public interest.”

Both Corpse Husband and Twitch Streamer Valkyrae also expressed disappointment that Sykkuno wasn’t included.

Other notable creators left out of the fold included CallMeCarson and Dream. On Twitter, both joked about the situation.

CallMeCarson, whose real name is Carson King, currently has over 3 million followers on YouTube. Dream, whose real identity is anonymous, has over 13 million followers. His Minecraft plays on YouTube average tens of millions of views with each upload. 

Twitter’s Verification Problem

In 2017, Twitter paused its application-based verification system after it faced backlash for verifying a white supremacist and reported neo-Nazi who had organized the infamous Charlottesville Unite the Right rally. During that rally, counterprotester Heather Heyer was killed after a vehicle rammed into her. 

“Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance,” the Twitter Support account said following backlash. “We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon.” 

In a quote tweet, CEO Jack Dorsey admitted that “the system is broken and needs to be reconsidered.”

In 2018, Twitter product lead Kayvon Beykpour said the company was shifting focus from updating that verification process to election integrity. 

During that announcement, he also addressed confusion that had arisen because, despite the pause of Twitter’s public verification system, some accounts were still actively receiving blue checkmarks.

“Despite that goal,” he said, “we still verify accounts ad hoc when we think it serves the public conversation & is in line with our policy. But this has led to frustration b/c our process remains opaque & inconsistent with our [intended] pause. This is far from ideal & we still intend to fix.” 

That likely explains Wednesday’s set of verifications, as well as verifications earlier this year for a number of public health officials who have authority to speak on the COVID-19 pandemic. 

When Will Public Verification Come Back?

Despite that application process being missing for three years now, public verification is still expected to come back. In fact, last week, Twitter announced that it expects to re-introduce the feature early next year.

In a draft policy, it said eligible accounts include government entities, companies, brands, nonprofits, news media accounts, activists, and organizers. The list also includes businesses and individuals in entertainment and sports, as well as a more general category listed as “other influential individuals.”

Beykpour added that the company’s “goal is to bring clarity to what verification on Twitter means, the criteria we’ll use for assessing verification, and how to apply.”

Indeed, the draft policy lays out some very specific rules for how to get that oh-so-coveted blue checkmark. For example, one avenue for an actor to receive verification includes obtaining at least five production credits on their IMDB profile.

Qualifying media outlets must also adhere to standards set forth by multiple organizations focusing on ethics in journalism. 

Twitter said it will refuse to hand out verifications to any accounts that “have had a 12-hour or 7-day lockout for violating the Twitter Rules in the past six months.”

“You may lose your badge if you change your account name (@handle), if your account becomes inactive or incomplete, or if you are no longer in the position you initially were verified for—such as an elected government official who leaves office—and you do not otherwise meet our criteria for verification,” the draft says.

That clause could potentially leave the door open for Twitter to remove President Donald Trump’s verification once he leaves the White House in January. Since May, Twitter has placed warning labels on a bevy of Trump’s tweets. That fact-checking process ramped up in November as Trump made false claims about election fraud in dozens of tweets.

If Trump continues to tweet false information after his presidency, Twitter may be forced to address that question. In either event that Twitter removes his verification or gives him a special exemption, the company will undoubtedly face criticism.

Twitter said it will publish a finalized version of this policy on Dec. 17, but at least one major question remains: If Twitter has worked for three years to make its verification process transparent, will users have confidence in the platform if it continues to accidentally give verifications — a symbol of authority — to random accounts?  

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (The Verge) (PC Mag)

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YouTuber Gabi DeMartino Slammed for Selling Naked Childhood Video of Herself on OnlyFans

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  • Longtime social media influencer Gabi DeMartino was slammed Tuesday for tricking her OnlyFans subscribers into paying $3 for a naked childhood video of herself.
  • The locked content was captioned “won’t put my panties on,” prompting fans to assume their purchase would unlock a nude or, at the very least, risqué video of her.
  • DeMartino initially accused critics of “reaching,” but later apologized and claimed her account was “NOT a sexual page.”
  • Instead, she said she uses it like a “finsta” to post content she would normally share with close friends. However, Insider reported that her previous OnlyFans posts were sexual in nature.
  • Though DeMartino says she deactivated her own account, OnlyFans said it terminated her page for breaking its terms of service. Now, many sex workers are concerned about how her actions will hurt adult entertainers who will face blame for something they didn’t and wouldn’t do.

What Did She Do?

OnlyFans said it deactivated a popular influencer’s account on Tuesday after she tricked people into paying for a naked childhood video of herself.

The creator under fire, 25-year-old Gabi DeMartino, is a longtime YouTuber with over 3 million subscribers on her personal channel and 9.6 million on the joint channel she shares with her twin sister. DeMartino also boasts impressive followings on Instagram and Twitter and is perhaps best recognized for her striking resemblance to singer Ariana Grande.

Like other stars and influencers in recent months, DeMartino created an account on OnlyFans, the popular subscription site predominantly used by sex workers because it allows nude and risqué content.

However, DeMartino caused widespread outrage Tuesday after she sent a message to her OnlyFans subscribers that read: “won’t put my panties on.” 

That message was accompanied by a 35-second video clip that fans had to pay $3 to unlock. Because of her wording, many assumed that if they paid, they would receive a nude or, at the very least, risqué video of her.

Instead, what fans reportedly ended up getting was a video of her as a toddler lifting up her dress to show herself naked underneath.

Almost immediately, people began slamming DeMartino for duping her fans into essentially buying child pornography.  Many also said they were disturbed by what she had done and reported her to OnlyFans.

DeMartino Responds

After seeing the initial backlash, most notably from YouTube drama channels, DeMartino seemed to defend herself.

“Drama channels are trying to make something out of a childhood video of me, that’s hilarious,” she said in a phone call with Insider reporter Kat Tenbarge.

“They’re reaching,” she added.  

However, the backlash continued to grow and DeMartino soon changed her tune. When the drama channel known as Spill Sesh demanded the influencer make a statement, she finally did.

“A childhood video of me on the phone sayin ‘Nani says put your panties back on’ and jumping up and down laughing. I’m sorry I didn’t think that one through. period. a home-video i love to share w my friends & i use my OF as a “finsta” page where i share stuff as i would w friends,” She wrote on Twitter.

She expanded on that statement in a follow up post, calling the video a “gooft throwback family moment” that she wanted to share with her fans.

“I am sorry that this wasn’t thought out completely I apologize. The video is down now I am sorry again if this came out wrong,” she continued.

OnlyFans Deactivates Her Account

While some fans accepted her apology, many internet users weren’t having it. 

Several people specifically took issue with DeMartino claiming she uses her OnlyFans as a “Finsta,” a private account typically reserved for close friends.

In fact, when she talked to Insider via text message, she said her account “was NOT a sexual page.” However, the outlet noted that DeMartino’s previous OnlyFans posts were sexual in nature.

DeMartino’s photos and videos on OnlyFans included a video of her boyfriend lying on top of her and kissing her and a picture of him groping her,” Insider reported. “She also posed topless for a “nip slip” image and for one image of her breasts pressed against another woman who was clothed. DeMartino also posted multiple videos of her twerking.

This information caused many to question her apology further, meanwhile, others continued to take issue with how she marketed the video.

In a now-deleted tweet, DeMartino even addressed her phrasing in the initial message, saying: “I was trolling it was wrong period.” 

DeMartino also told Insider that she took down her OnlyFans page after the outrage, but that too was called into question because OnlyFans issued a statement to several media outlets saying it deactivated her accounting for violating its terms of service.

Still, while her account is now gone, many adult entertainers are frustrated that yet another star is giving OnlyFans a bad name.

“It’s women like her that do this that make people turn to those of us in the adult industry who would never do something like this, and we take the blame for it,” Alana Evans, an adult entertainer and president of the Adult Performers Actors Guild (APAG) told The Daily Beast.

“It’s shocking. Just shocking,” she added.

Evans told the outlet that she reported the page to OnlyFans and encouraged the site to help authorities so that DeMartino is prosecuted. She also said she has contacted the FBI about this situation. However, at this time, it’s unclear if DeMartino will face any serious legal consequences.

See what others are saying: (The Daily Beast) (Insider) (PopBuzz)

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Jake Paul Believes COVID-19 Is a Hoax

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  • Internet star Jake Paul called COVID-19 a hoax, incorrectly compared it to the flu, called 98% of news fake, and doubted medical experts in an interview with The Daily Beast published Wednesday.
  • Many online slammed Paul for his misleading and false claims and praised the reporter, Marlow Stern, for repeatedly pushing back against them.
  • Readers also pointed to other notable moments in the interview as ones that expose Paul’s true character.

Jake Paul’s Thoughts on the Coronavirus Pandemic

YouTuber Jake Paul is facing major heat online after claiming that COVID-19 is a hoax in an interview with The Daily Beast.

During the interview, the outlet’s Senior Entertainment Editor, Marlow Stern, brought up the fact that Paul has hosted several parties throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Stern cites a July report from Kat Tenbarge for Insider, which quoted Paul saying at the time, “I personally am not the type of person who’s gonna sit around and not live my life.”

When asked if he still lives by that mindset, Paul essentially explained that he does. “It’s time for us to open up,” he said.

“This is the most detrimental thing to our society. COVID cases are at less than 1 percent, and I think the disease is a hoax,” he added.

Paul went on to compare the virus to the flu, which Stern push back against in an interesting exchange.

Stern: You think the disease is a hoax? It’s killed about 260,000 people so far this year.
Paul: Ugh. Yeah, and so has the flu.
No. The flu has only killed a fraction of that, and we also have a vaccine for the flu.
OK.
The flu kills between 20,000 and 70,000 people a year. And we have a mass-produced vaccine for it.
Don’t we have a vaccine for COVID?
Not yet. They’re hopeful we will soon. It’s been approved by the FDA based on early-stage trials but it hasn’t been introduced to the market yet. So they’re hopeful that there will be a vaccine out very soon, although distribution also poses a big problem. But I want to talk about why you think COVID is a “hoax.”
I don’t have to elaborate.
You don’t want to elaborate on that?
[Deep sigh] No.

This section of the interview caught the most heat online, however, at a later point, Paul made more false and misleading claims about the virus, which Stern again corrected.

Paul also suggested he had doubts about the information coming from health professionals, saying: “I don’t think we do know who the health professionals are. People like yourself, or people who go on Twitter and read articles all day, you know, 98 percent of news is fake, so how do we know what’s actually real, and what we’re actually supposed to do?

Reactions

Shortly after the article was published, Twitter users and some fellow content creators slammed his remarks.

Other Notable Moments

However, the outrage isn’t solely about his coronavirus comments. In the interview, Paul also refused to comment on several of his past controversies, including the FBI raid on his home and his this use of the n-word.

He also faced criticism for remarks he made about his criminal trespassing and unlawful assembly charges. Those charges came after video appeared to show him participating in a looting at a mall in Scottsdale, Arizona during Black Lives Matter protests over the summer.

“It looked like people in your crew were both shooting fireworks at the mall and also destroying some store windows inside of it. Do you feel you conducted yourself appropriately in that situation?” Stern asked.

“I was merely a reporter simply, like you are in this call, wanting to capture, document, and record what was happening,” Paul responded.

At one point, he even became frustrated that Stern was asking him about his past controversies.

“How does asking about these incidents help you learn more about me?” Paul said. “You didn’t ask me, “Yo, do you have any hobbies?” “What are you like as a person?” “What is your daily routine?” “Do you call your mom?” “Do you have friends?”

“You want me to ask you if you have friends or call your mom?” Stern replied.

“I mean, if you actually wanted to learn more about me, yeah, those are the types of questions you would ask,” Paul explained.

To that, Stern noted that he did spend time asking Paul about his passion for boxing and defended his line of questions as fair.

Because of this, and other notable moments in the piece, many are saying the interview gives a good glimpse and Paul’s true character. Readers have also praised Stern for how he conducted the interview and repeatedly corrected Paul’s dangerous claims.

Read the full interview here: The Daily Beast

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