- David Dobrik apologized for past content he made with his YouTube Vlog Squad after facing increased pressure to address misconduct within the group.
- The social media star specifically said sorry to Seth Francois, who claimed he was sexually assaulted in two kissing “prank” videos Dobrik orchestrated.
- Dobrik also addressed his relationship with Dominykas Zeglaitis, known online as “Durte Dom,” who was recently accused of raping a woman that was too drunk to consent to sexual acts during a night of filming with the Vlog Squad.
- “With people in my life that I don’t film with anymore, like Dom, I chose to distance myself,” Dobrik said. “I don’t align with some of the actions, I don’t stand for any misconduct.”
David Dobrik Apologizes
Massive social media star David Dobrik apologized in a video late Monday for past content he made with his YouTube friend group, the Vlog Squad.
His rare response to controversy came hours after a bombshell report from Insider detailing a rape accusation against former Vlog Squad member Dominykas Zeglaitis, who goes by “Durte Dom” online.
“Consent is something that is super super important to me, whether I’m shooting with a friend or I’m shooting with a stranger, I always make sure whatever video I’m putting out I have the approval of that person,” Dobrik stated in his apology titled “Let’s Talk.”
Over the past several weeks, Dobrik has faced growing pressure to address alleged misconduct in the Vlog Squad. The backlash against him reached a new level when former member Seth Francois said he was sexually assaulted in two kissing “prank” videos where he was duped into unknowingly kissing Vlog Squad member Jason Nash.
Until now, Dobrik gave no comment on this situation even though the story grew and caught the attention of mainstream news outlets. The only glimpse the public got of his potential stance on the allegations came from a video response made by Vlog Squad member Scotty Sire. In that video, Sire defended Dobrik and accused Francois of lying. He later deleted that video after it was criticized for victim shaming and largely ignoring key points of the accusations.
“With the Seth situation, I’m sorry to Seth,” Dobrik said in his apology video. “I just want to make videos where everybody in it, whether you’re participating or watching, is enjoying and having a good time. And I missed the mark with that one.”
Dobrik then addressed the allegations against Zeglaitis, who was accused of raping a 20-year-old girl that told Insider she was too drunk to consent to have sex.
“With people in my life that I don’t film with anymore, like Dom, I chose to distance myself,” he added. “I don’t align with some of the actions, I don’t stand for any misconduct. I’ve been really disappointed by some of my friends. For that reason, I’ve separated from a lot of them.”
Many online have slammed the YouTuber for the brief response and for putting it on one of his smallest platforms. Others noted the irony of title, “Let’s Talk,” considering the fact that comments on the video are disabled. Some have even accused YouTube of removing the video from its trending page in an effort to protect one of its large creators.
Durte Dom Accused of Rape
The alleged assault reported by Insider was said to have happened in 2018 when a group of college girls met up with Dobrik, Zeglaitis, and other members of the Vlog Squad to film a video for Dobrik’s channel.
The accuser, who went by Hannah in Insider’s article, said Zeglaitis had been flirting with her all night despite her repeatedly rejecting his advances.
Hannah claimed that Vlog Squad members bought alcohol and supplied it to the girls, all of whom were under 21. Sources told Insider that the alcohol was supplied by Todd Smith and Jeff Wittek, but Wittek denied he supplied it and doubted Smith’s involvement as well.
According to accounts from Hannah and her friend, who claims she was sober that night, Hannah ended up getting too drunk to walk or dress herself. Hannah said she does not remember most of the night, but claimed that her friend Audrey later told her that the two of them had engaged in sexual acts with Zeglaitis. According to Insider, at one point during this, Hannah showed signs of losing consciousness. The report says that Zeglaitis still continued sexual acts, so Audrey “took over” to get him to stop.
To the viewers watching the vlog that was posted from that night, it would look like Zeglaitis engaged in a consensual encounter with two women. At various points, it even shows his friends laughing, cheering him on for having a threesome, and peeking into the room to watch. The video did not show how drunk Hannah said she and her friends were, or her repeated attempts to get Zeglaitis to stop flirting.
Hannah said that after a couple of weeks, she asked Zeglaitis to take the video down as she felt uncomfortable with the fact that millions of people were watching a night she claims to not remember that included acts she did not consent to.
“It’s difficult to describe how it feels knowing that millions of strangers have seen a video of me in a night that affected me and traumatized me in nearly incomprehensible ways, not knowing that anything was wrong,” she told Insider.
Zeglaitis did not give the outlet a comment on the allegations against him, however, last week he uploaded a video addressing Francois’s accusations against the Vlog Squad. According to Insider, he uploaded this after he had been contacted to give a statement about Hannah’s allegations, though he did not address her claims.
“Just because somebody might think they’re fine with it the first day or they’re fine with it six months later and then a year later they’re not fine with it doesn’t mean you can discredit these peoples experiences because people need time to understand what they’ve been going through,” he said in one part of the video, which many are now sharing in light of the rape accusation against him.
TikTok and Twitter Are Now Deleting Videos That Expose Closeted Olympians on Grindr
On top of outing people who may not be ready to have their sexuality revealed to the world, these videos could have endangered LGBTQ+ athletes from countries where homosexuality is illegal.
Closeted Olympians Being Doxxed
Openly LGBTQ+ Olympians are currently more visible than they have ever been before, but unfortunately, so are closeted ones.
That’s because some people have been using the LGBTQ+ dating app Grindr to try and find Olympians. They’ve been doing so by using the app’s “Explore” feature, which allows people to search and see users in specific locations (ie. Olympic Village).
But some aren’t content with just discovering which athletes belong to the LGBTQ+ community. They’re also sharing that information on platforms like TikTok and Twitter.
“I used Grindr’s explore feature to find myself [an] Olympian boyfriend,” one TikTok user said in a post that had been viewed 140,000 times, according to Insider.
That video reportedly went on to show the poster scrolling through Grindr to expose over 30 users’ full faces.
As many have argued, not only does this potentially out already-stressed Olympians who may not yet be comfortable sharing their sexuality, it also could put some users at serious risk if they live in countries where being LGBTQ+ is illegal.
In fact, the video cited by Insider seemingly did just that, as it reportedly shows the face of a user who appears to be from a country “known for its anti-LGBTQ policies.”
Grindr Responds, TikTok and Twitter Take Action
In response, Grindr said the posts violate its rules against “publicly displaying, publishing, or otherwise distributing any content or information” from the app. It then asked the posters to remove the content.
Ultimately, it was TikTok and Twitter themselves that largely took action, with the two deleting at least 14 posts scattered across their platforms.
Twitter says it’s taking steps to remove the posts flagged by Insider showing Grindr’s explore page at the Olympic Village. TikTok has yet to give an on the record response. pic.twitter.com/r11pNL6Lwu— Benjamin Goggin (@BenjaminGoggin) July 28, 2021
A Highly-Visible LGBTQ+ Presence at the Games
According to Outsports, at least 172 of around 11,000 Olympians are openly LGBTQ+. While that number is still well below the statistical average, it’s triple the number of LGBTQ+ athletes that attended Rio’s 2016 Games.
In fact, if they were their own country, openly LGBTQ+ athletes would reportedly rank 11th in medals, according to an Outsports report published Tuesday.
Among those winners is British diver Tom Daley, who secured his first gold medal on Monday and used his platform to send a hopeful message to LGBTQ+ youth by telling them, “You are not alone.”
After winning a silver medal on Wednesday, U.S. swimmer Erica Sullivan talked about her experience as both a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a person of color.
Still, the Olympics has faced criticism for its exclusion of intersex individuals, particularly those like South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya, who won gold medals in both 2012 and 2016. Rules implemented in 2019 now prevent Semenya from competing as a woman without the use of medication to suppress her testosterone levels.
Jake Paul Launches Anti-Bullying Charity
The charity, called Boxing Bullies, aims to use the sport to give kids confidence and courage.
Jake Paul Launches Boxing Bullies Foundation
YouTuber Jake Paul — best known as the platform’s boxer, wreckless partier, and general troublemaker — has seemingly launched a non-profit to combat bullying.
The charity is called Boxing Bullies. According to a mission statement posted on Instagram, it aims to “instill self confidence, leadership, and courage within the youth through the sport of boxing while using our platform, voice, and social media to fight back against bullying.”
If the notion of a Paul-founded anti-bullying charity called “Boxing Bullies” was not already begging to be compared to former First Lady Melania Trump’s “Best Best” initiative, maybe the group’s “Boxing Bullies Commandments” will help connect the dots. Those commandments use an acronym for the word “BOX” to spell out the charity’s golden rules.
“Be kind to everyone; Only defend, never initiate; X-out bullying.”
Paul Hopes To “Inspire” Kids To Stand Up For Themselves
Paul first said he was launching Boxing Bullies during a July 13 interview following a press conference for his upcoming fight against Tyron Woodley.
“I know who I am at the end of the day, which is a good person,” he told reporters. “I’m trying to change this sport, bring more eyeballs. I’m trying to support other fighters, increase fighter pay. I’m starting my charity, I’m launching that in 12 days here called Boxing Bullies and we’re helping to fight against cyberbullying.”
It has not been quite 12 days since the interview, so it’s likely that more information about the organization will be coming soon. Currently, the group has been the most active on Instagram, where it boasts a following of just around 1,200 followers. It has posted once to Twitter, where it has 32 followers; and has a TikTok account that has yet to publish any content. It also has a website, though there is not too much on it as of yet.
On its Instagram, one post introducing Paul as the founder claims the rowdy YouTuber started this charity because he has been on the receiving end of bullying.
“Having been a victim of bullying himself, Jake experienced firsthand the impact it has on a person’s life,” the post says. “Jake believes that this is a prevailing issue in society that isn’t talked about enough. Boxing gave Jake the confidence to not care about what others think and he wants to share the sport and the welfare it‘s had on him with as many kids as possible.”
It adds that he hopes his group can“inspire the next generation of kids to be leaders, be athletes, and to fight back against bullying.”
Paul Previously Accused of Being a Bully
While fighting against bullying is a noble cause, it is an ironic project for Paul to start, as he has faced no shortage of bullying accusations. While Paul previously sang about “stopping kids from getting bullied” in the lunchroom, some have alleged he himself was actually a classic high school bully who threw kids’ backpacks into garbage cans.
This behavior allegedly continued into his adulthood, as a New York Times report from earlier this year claimed he ran his Team 10 house with a culture of toxicity and bullying. Among other things, sources said he involved others in violent pranks, pressured people into doing dangerous stunts, and destroyed peoples’ personal property to make content.
See what others are saying: (Dexerto)
Director Defends Recreating Anthony Bourdain’s Voice With AI in New Documentary
The film’s director claims he received permission from Bourdain’s estate and literary agent, but on Thursday, Bourdain’s widow publicly denied ever giving that permission.
Bourdain’s Voice Recreated
“You are successful, and I am successful, and I’m wondering: Are you happy?” Anthony Bourdain says in a voiceover featured in “Roadrunnner,” a newly released documentary about the late chef — except Bourdain never actually said those words aloud.
Instead, it’s one of three lines in the film, which features frequent voiceovers from Bourdain, that were created through the use of artificial intelligence technology.
That said, the words are Bourdain’s own. In fact, they come from an email Bourdain reportedly wrote to a friend prior to his 2018 suicide. Nonetheless, many have now questioned whether recreating Bourdain’s voice was ethical, especially since documentaries are meant to reflect reality.
Director Defends Use of AI Voice
The film’s director, Academy Award winner Morgan Neville, has defended his use of the synthetic voice, telling Variety that he received permission from Bourdain’s estate and literary agent before inserting the lines into the film.
“There were a few sentences that Tony wrote that he never spoke aloud,” Neville said. “It was a modern storytelling technique that I used in a few places where I thought it was important to make Tony’s words come alive.”
Bourdain’s widow — Ottavia Bourdain, who is the executor of his estate — later denied Neville’s claim on Twitter, saying, “I certainly was NOT the one who said Tony would have been cool with that.”
In another interview with GQ, Neville described the process, saying the film’s creators “fed more than ten hours of Tony’s voice into an AI model.”
“The bigger the quantity, the better the result,” he added. “We worked with four companies before settling on the best.”
“If you watch the film,” Neville told The New Yorker, “you probably don’t know what the other lines are that were spoken by the AI, and you’re not going to know. We can have a documentary-ethics panel about it later.”
The Ethics Debate Isn’t Being Tabled
But many want to have that discussion now.
Boston-based film critic Sean Burns, who gave the film a rare negative review, later criticized it again for its unannounced use of AI, saying he wasn’t aware that Bourdain’s voice had been recreated until after he watched the documentary.
Meanwhile, The New Yorker’s Helen Rosner wrote that the “seamlessness of the effect is eerie.”
“If it had been a human voice double I think the reaction would be “huh, ok,” but there’s something truly unsettling about the idea of it coming from a computer,” Rosner later tweeted.
Online, many others have criticized the film’s use of AI, with some labeling it as a “deepfake.”
Others have offered more mixed criticism, saying that while the documentary highlights the need for posthumous AI use to be disclosed, it should not be ruled out altogether.
“In a world where the living could consent to using AI to reproduce their voices posthumously, and where people were made aware that such a technology was being used, up front and in advance, one could envision that this kind of application might serve useful documentary purposes,” David Leslie, ethics lead at the Alan Turing Institute, told the BBC.
Celebrities Recreated After Death
The posthumous use of celebrity likeness in media is not a new debate. In 2012, a hologram of Tupac took the stage 15 years after his death. In 2014, the Billboard Music Awards brought a hologram of Michael Jackson onstage five years after his death. Meanwhile, the Star Wars franchise digitally recreated actor Peter Cushing in 2016’s “Rogue One,” and unused footage of actress Carrie Fisher was later translated into “The Rise of Skywalker,” though a digital version of Fisher was never used.
In recent years, it has become almost standard for filmmakers to say that they will not create digital versions of characters whose actors die unexpectedly. For example, several months after Chadwick Boseman’s death last year, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” executive producer Victoria Alonso confirmed Boseman would not be digitally recreated for his iconic role as King T’Challa.