- Rapper Jay-Z and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey established a $23.6 million Bitcoin endowment Thursday with the goal of making “Bitcoin the internet’s currency.”
- The duo, which will not be able to offer any guidance over the fund, donated 500 Bitcoins to aid the development of the cryptocurrency in India and Africa; however, India announced plans that same day to ban private cryptocurrencies in the country.
- While Bitcoin has boomed in Africa, last week, Nigeria’s central bank issued a directive to close accounts dealing in cryptocurrency.
- Meanwhile, Kenya has recently embraced Bitcoin by announcing plans to make it a reserve currency, as its primary currency faces volatility.
Zay-Z and Dorsey Donate 500 Bitcoin
Rapper Jay-Z and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey established a Bitcoin endowment Thursday to fund development of the cryptocurrency in India and Africa.
As an initial sum, the two donated 500 bitcoin, currently valued at $23.6 million.
According to Dorsey, that fund, called Btrust, will be a blind irrevocable trust — meaning neither he nor Jay-Z will be able to offer any direction on how it’s run.
Dorsey also said Btrust is looking for three board members, and in an application linked in his tweet about the trust, Dorsey described its mission as “mak[ing] Bitcoin the internet’s currency.”
Bitcoin in India and Africa
While Bitcoin once again surged to an all-time high Thursday, this announcement still comes at a fairly ironic time.
That’s because India announced plans that same Thursday to ban private cryptocurrency investments. Notably, anyone in the country already holding cryptocurrency will have three to six months to sell it off once the ban is enacted.
That said, India is also seeking to establish an “official digital currency” that will be backed by the nation’s central bank, Reserve Bank of India.
Meanwhile, crypto trading has boomed in some African countries. For example, Nigeria traded over $400 million in crypto last year, and worldwide, it only trails behind the United States in terms of the volume of Bitcoin traded over the last five years.
In fact, Bitcoin played a major role in the #EndSARS protests in the country last year. Those protests, aimed at ending police brutality by a unit known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, found a financial lifeline in Bitcoin after the Nigerian government locked bank accounts that were fundraising in support of the protests.
Still, similar to India, the Central Bank of Nigeria last week issued a directive ordering banks in the country to close accounts dealing in cryptocurrency.
Kenya, on the other hand, has embraced Bitcoin and announced this week that it will use the cryptocurrency as a reserve currency. That move comes as Kenya is working to address the volatile nature of its own currency, the Kenyan Shilling.
See what others are saying: (TechCrunch) (Engadget) (Business Insider)
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.
See what others are saying: (NBC News) (Axios) (The New York Times)
PewDiePie “Disappointed” by YouTube’s Removal of His CoComelon Diss Track
- In a live stream Sunday, PewDiePie said he was “really disappointed” and disagreed with YouTube’s decision to remove his latest diss track aimed at the popular children’s channel CoComelon.
- The YouTuber added that his live stream was not the right place to address the controversy and did not comment further.
- YouTube removed his diss track Thursday for violating its child safety policy because it looked like it was made for kids but contained violence and other inappropriate content.
- The platform also said the video violated its harassment policy, noting that it allows criticism and diss tracks, but this one “crossed the line” because it “had the effect of encouraging abusive fan behavior.”
PewDiePie Addresses Controversy
PewDiePie briefly responded to YouTube’s decision to remove his latest diss track for violating its child safety and harassment policies.
In a live stream Sunday, the YouTuber seemed hesitant to address the controversy at length. “If there’s a place for me to address it, it’s not during a livestream, but I also really want to play today,” he said.
“So I’m just going to say I’m really disappointed, and I obviously disagree, but I’m not going to address it further than that today. Sorry guys,” he continued.
He also admitted that part of him did not want to live stream because he knew he would be bombarded with questions about the diss track, which made headlines since YouTube’s Thursday announcement.
The Diss Track
Last week, PewDiePie uploaded a diss track aimed at the popular children’s YouTube channel CoComelon, a nursery rhyme channel with 105 million subscribers and over 94 billion total channel views.
In the last few months, CoComelon earned PewDiePie’s attention after it became clear that it could quickly surpass him in subscribers and maybe even become the platform’s biggest channel. That prompted fans to ask for a diss track like the ones PewDiePie famously made during his subscriber battle with the Indian media company T-Series.
Just days after uploading the video, however, YouTube pulled it down. Team YouTube then took to Twitter to explain the decision, writing: “To clarify, this violated two policies 1) Child safety: by looking like it was made for kids but containing inappropriate content (incl violence) 2) Harassment: we allow criticism & also diss tracks in some cases, but w/ both policies in mind, this video crossed the line.”
The platform also banned all full and partial reuploads, though it allows still images from the video.
The video may have disappeared from YouTube, but uploads of it still exist elsewhere on the internet. For those who haven’t seen it, does include a lot of swearing and vulgar jokes. PewDiePie even throws in some digs at Tekashi 69 and JK Rowling, and near the end, children in the video appear to use fake weapons to attack a watermelon – a reference to CoComelon’s watermelon logo.
According to YouTube, the removal did not result in a channel strike, but further violations of its policies may result in one.
“Our policies prohibit content that leads to repeated patterns of harassment on- and off-platform,” a spokesperson told The Verge. “Following a review, we’ve removed the video in question for violating those policies because they had the effect of encouraging abusive fan behavior.”
While some might find that hard to believe that the video could incite abuse, it’s worth noting that PewDiePie’s previous T-Series diss tracks may have set a precedent here. Those songs, and the global campaign to make PewDiePie the #1 most subscribed channel on YouTube, led to an outpouring of harassment and sometimes racist sentiments against T-Series.
Still, others think YouTube could have age-gated his CoComelon video to avoid any issues. Others also noted that the platform has allowed more graphic music videos to remain on its site and suggested that it consistently protects channels that bring in the most ad revenue.
Before YouTube’s decision, PewDiePie said he was proud of the diss track and stressed that the song would put an end to his fake feud with CoComelon.
“I wanted to make it clear before I start this video by saying that, you know, I saw this as the finale. I saw this as ending the meme,” he explained.
“I’m not going to continue with it because number 1: It would just not be funny. And number 2: I don’t actually care about CoComelon. Like if anyone ever passes me in the future, I’m not going to make a whole spiel out of it. It was fun for what it was. And number 3: I don’t want it to get out of control like it did last time. So I just wanna be clear. Keep it civil. Keep it fun.”