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David Dobrik Leaves Dispo, Loses Sponsors Following Vlog Squad Rape Allegations

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  • YouTuber David Dobrik has stepped down from the board of Dispo, the photo-sharing social media app he co-founded, according to The Information.
  • The departure comes amid growing backlash for past content he made with his YouTube Vlog Squad, some of which led to the alleged sexual assaults of a former member and a 20-year-old college student. 
  • Major brands like Dollar Shave Club, DoorDash, EA Sports, and others have dropped their partnerships with Dobrik in light of the allegations. 
  • Vlog Squad member Jeff Wittek also drew new scrutiny towards Dobrik and his group after criticizing an Insider reporter’s coverage of one sexual assault claim, despite not fully reading the article himself.

David Dobrik Loses Brand Deals

YouTuber David Dobrik is stepping down from the board of Dispo, a photo-sharing social media app that he founded, as he continues to face backlash over a rape accusation against a member of his Vlog Squad.

Last week, Insider published a report detailing a woman’s claim that Dom Zeglaitis, known online as Durte Dom, raped her in 2018 when she was too drunk to consent to any sexual activity. The accuser said she was 20-years-old at the time and was with Dobrik and other Vlog Squad members to film a video.

Following this piece, Dobrik has been dropped by major brands, including Dollar Shave Club, DoorDash, EA Sports, and Hello Fresh. He is also no longer an owner of Angel City Football club, a U.S. women’s soccer team.

“Angel City was built to lead by example, to set higher expectations, and to do the right thing, even when the right thing is hard,” the club’s president, resident Julie Uhrman, said in a statement. “To that end, David Dobrik is no longer an owner of Angel City.”

On Sunday night, Spark Capital, a major investor in Dobrik’s Dispo app, said it was severing all ties with the company in light of the allegations. 

“We have stepped down from our position on the board and we are in the process of making arrangements to ensure we do not profit from our recent investment in Dispo,” Spark Capital said on Twitter.

Later that night, Dispo told The Information that Dobrik would be leaving the app. 

“David has chosen to step down from the board and leave the company to not distract from the company’s growth,” it said in a statement.

Seven Seven Six, a venture capital firm that invested in Dispo, released a statement saying it agreed with the app’s decision to part ways with Dobrik. It promised to donate any profits from their investment to organizations that work with sexual assault survivors.

Dobrik previously addressed the allegations in a brief video last week. He said he has separated himself from Zeglaitis.

“With people in my life that I don’t film with anymore, like Dom, I chose to distance myself,” he said. “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.” 

“Consent is something that is super super important to me,” he added.

Jeff Wittek Slams Insider Investigation

Dobrik is not the only person facing backlash for his alleged involvement in the situation. Vlog Squad member Jeff Wittek has also hopped on the defense, as the Insider piece suggests he may have supplied the alcohol that the accuser and her friends drank.

In the piece, two sources — former Vlog Squadder Trisha Paytas and a separate witness who was friends with the accuser — said they remember Wittek buying whiskey. Wittek is quoted in the piece denying that he did so. 

On Sunday, he uploaded a video called “MY TRUTH” slamming the article and the reporter who wrote it, Kat Tenbarge. At one point, he put Tenbarge’s Twitter on the screen in an attempt to send people to attack her. He said Tenbarge wrote the story for “personal profit” because it was initially behind a paywall, something she had no control over. He also said he has lost partnerships as a result of his involvement in the story. 

“The only one that was allegedly saying that I bought the alcohol was Trisha. Trisha wasn’t even there,” Wittek said multiple times in his video, despite the fact that the report included a second source who implicated him.

Wittek also included excerpts of two conversations he had with Tenbarge: one where she interviewed him before the piece was published, and one where he confronted her after the fact. In one clip, Tenbarge said she was sorry that Wittek was facing backlash for being mentioned in the article, but stood by her reporting. At no point do any of his clips show that his quotes were taken out of context. 

Wittek further denied buying the alcohol and said he was not at the apartment when the alleged incident happened. He said both he and other members of the Vlog Squad were completely unaware of the allegation. 

Kat Tenbarge Responds to Jeff Wittek

Tenbarge hit back at Wittek for actively ignoring the fact that she included a second person who said he purchased the drinks. 

“Jeff spends his video trying to undermine my credibility by making false statements and playing out-of-context clips from our conversations,” she wrote. “I stand by my reporting and so does Insider.”

Tenbarge also included a longer excerpt of their conversation where she clearly states that two sources told her about Wittek allegedly buying alcohol.  

She also addressed frustrations Wittek had with a line in the article that read: “He didn’t think [Todd] Smith would have bought it either, though he said Smith ‘loves whiskey.’” Wittek argued that she took that last comment about whiskey from a separate part of the conversation and used it to make it seem like he was suggesting Smith could have bought it. According to a clip Tenbarge shared, that’s is what he said and it was not taken out of context.

In a later thread, Tenbarge said she only apologized because Wittek told her “people were calling him a rapist & pedophile.” She said during their second conversation, he used manipulation tactics so he could get soundbites to later use against her. 

Jeff Wittek Goes on Frenemies

The situation with Wittek escalated on Sunday when he appeared on the “Frenemies” podcast with Paytas and Ethan Kein. During that live show, Wittek admitted that he had not read the article in its entirety prior to making his video that slammed it. 

He also changed his story about how long he was with the Vlog Squad the night the rape allegedly happened. Wittek previously said he was at the apartment for 15 minutes, but then said on the Frenemies podcast it was closer to 30 or 45 minutes at around 11:00 P.M. Then Klein pulled up a photo timestamped at 1:18 A.M. That photo included Wittek, Dobrik, and the accuser, who was being supported up by her friends as she was too drunk to stand. Still, Wittek maintained he was not there the whole night. 

“I certainly was not there when they were having sex,” he said.

“Well yeah they were in a private room,” Klein said.

“No. I wasn’t in the apartment,” Wittek claimed. 

“So, you left and then you came back at the end of the night?” 

“I guess I did come back, yeah as ridiculous as it sounds, but I live down the street.” 

At another point, he claimed Dobrik did the same. 

“To my understanding, I think David left too… I think everybody left,” he explained.

“That doesn’t make any sense Jeff…I have this photo of all of you guys at the end of the night,” Klein said.

Wittek continued to deny any wrongdoing that night and claimed certain parts of the video were entirely staged. He also said he had no idea who was drinking and who was or was not 21-years-old.

See what others are saying: (Insider) (Newsweek) (The New York Times)

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Twitch Tightens Policies on Explicit Deepfakes 

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“The creation, promotion, or viewing of this content is not welcome on Twitch,”  the company said in a blog post.


New Rules Regarding “Synthetic NCEI”

Twitch is cracking down on explicit deepfake content and will indefinitely suspend users who share or promote it after a first offense.

“The existence of this content, and its presence and distribution on various sites, is personally violating and beyond upsetting. Deepfake porn isn’t a problem on Twitch, but it’s a terrible issue that some streamers (almost exclusively women) may face on the internet at large,” Twitch said in a Tuesday blog post, explaining it wants to “help streamers protect themselves” in any case this issue arises. 

Twitch referred to this content as “synthetic non-consensual exploitative images,” or “synthetic NCEI,” but many of the platform’s users have casually referred to it as deepfake porn. Synthetic NCEI involves someone taking the face of another person and editing it into a pornographic video to make it appear as though that person filmed themselves demonstrating those sexual acts. The new rise in access to this technology has concerned many, as it is easy to use it to exploit others.

While synthetic NCEI is already banned on Twitch, the company took a more actionable step against it in its Tuesday post by creating an Adult Sexual Violence and Exploitation policy. The new rule prohibits the intentional sharing, promoting, or creation of synthetic NCEI and those acts can result in an indefinite suspension on the first offense. 

Twitch also updated its Adult Nudity policy to include synthetic NCEI. Even if it is only shown briefly, that content will still be taken down and result in an enforcement. 

In addition to the policy changes, Twitch made available a list of resources for those who might be impacted by or wish to learn more about synthetic NCEI. 

“The creation, promotion, or viewing of this content is not welcome on Twitch,”  the company said closing its blog post.

Growing Concerns About Explicit Deepfakes

Twitch’s updates come as synthetic NCEI and deepfakes have become a primary topic of concern for social media platforms. Earlier this year, Twitch was home to a major deepfake controversy after a streamer known as Atrioc was caught with an open tab to a website that hosted these videos. That site specifically hosted deepfakes of female Twitch streamers, some of whom were Atrioc’s colleagues. 

Many women featured on the page spoke out against these deepfakes, explaining the trauma they endured knowing their face, image, and likeness were used in a sexual manner without their consent. It’s an issue that extends far past Twitch creators. Some fear they could be used for revenge porn, and there are already several cases where the technology is used to create sexual videos of celebrities. 

On Tuesday, NBC News published a report finding that Facebook and Instagram ran suggestive ads featuring deepfakes of actresses like Emma Watson and Scarlett Johansson. The ads were for a deepfake app that told users they could “replace face with anyone.”

While the ads did not show explicit pornographic content, one ad featuring Watson was clearly meant to mimic the start of an explicit video, suggesting a sexual act was about to start. The face of the “Harry Potter” actress was seen looking into the camera before bending down.

The report found that 127 ads with Watson deepfakes and 74 with Johansson deepfakes ran across Meta’s platforms on Sunday and Monday, but have since been removed. The app in question was also removed from the Apple app store after NBC News contacted the tech giant for comment. 

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Engadget) (Kotaku)

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Fans Defend Pedro Pascal After Actor Refused to Read Thirst Tweets: “It’s Sexual Harassment”

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Pascal has been dubbed the Internet’s “daddy,” but many think the joke has gone too far.


Pascal’s Heartthrob Status

Fans are defending actor Pedro Pascal after he refused to read thirst tweets on the red carpet, arguing that it is inappropriate and disrespectful to ask him to do so. 

Pascal, the star of HBO’s “The Last of Us” and Disney+’s “The Mandalorian,” has become a major Hollywood heartthrob. He has even been widely dubbed as the Internet’s “daddy” by those posting about his handsome looks. The running joke grew last year when he did a Vanity Fair lie detector test and said he considered himself a “bigger daddy” than “Star Wars” star Oscar Isaac. 

“Daddy is a state of mind, you know what I’m saying? I’m your daddy,” he quipped during the interview. 

Since then, TikTokers have started posting thirst trap edits of Pascal, journalists have called him “daddy” on the red carpet, and interviewers have shown him tweets where fans call him a “cool, slutty daddy.”

Pascal has been a good sport about the public displays of lust for him, but many think the joke may have crossed a line. During last week’s red carpet premiere for season three of “The Mandalorian,” an Access Hollywood reporter went viral for asking Pascal to read thirst tweets to the camera. Pascal politely declined. 

“No. Dirty! Dirty!” he told the reporter after reading through the tweets.

“For your enjoyment only,” she responded.

“Thank you very much,” Pascal said before exiting the interview. 

Fans Condemn Thirst Tweet Interviews

In response, many who watched the clip condemned this treatment of Pascal, arguing it promoted constant objectification.

“I think it’s time for the internet to leave Pedro Pascal alone,” one person wrote. “It’s sexual harassment, but no one seems to care bc he’s a man + is graceful about it. It’s really gross and I would never want to be treated like that.”

“These jokes have gone way too far and he’s visibly uncomfortable,” another fan added. 

Some claimed that while the Internet’s love of Pascal “started as harmless fun…the constant public objectification and sexualization must be terrible” and should stop.

“Being attractive, banking on it, selling it, and even at times enjoying some of the attention, doesn’t give everyone wholesale permission to sexualize you,” someone else argued. 

See what others are saying: (IndieWire) (The Gamer) (BuzzFeed News)

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Conservatives Pledge to #BoycottHershey After International Women’s Day Campaign Featured a Trans Woman

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“I hope this campaign shows trans girls they can dream big and change the world too,” activist Fae Johnstone said in her Hers for She video.


Hershey Highlights Fae Johnstone

Step aside, Green M&M. Conservatives have a new candy that they’re mad at: Hershey bars. 

On Wednesday, Hershey Canada unveiled its “Her for She” International Women’s Day initiative, which aims to celebrate “women changing the future.” Conservatives were quickly outraged by the company’s choice to highlight Fae Johnstone, a trans woman and LGBTQ+ rights activist, as part of this effort. 

“We can create a world where everyone is able to live in public space as their honest and authentic selves,” Johnstone said in a “Her for She” video. 

In addition to Johnstone, the campaign features gender equality activists, a climate tech researcher, and an indigenous rights activist, all of whom have fought for progress in their respective fields. The women will appear on Hershey’s websites, in marketing promotions, and in artistic renderings on Hershey bar wrappers.

Johnstone wrote on Twitter that she hopes Hershey’s campaign will “give more young women and girls role models” who can demonstrate how to “change the world, together.”

“It also means a lot to be included, as a young(ish?) trans woman,” Johnstone continued. “I grew up with few trans role models. Many young trans folks haven’t met a trans adult. I hope this campaign shows trans girls they can dream big and change the world too.” 

A Swift Transphobic Backlash

This decision, however, prompted right-wing Twitter users to accuse Hershey of hating “real” women. Many of the posts included blatantly transphobic rhetoric, as well as promises to boycott the company because it went “woke.”

The outrage was so prominent that #BoycottHershey was one of the top Twitter trends on Thursday morning. 

This backlash comes just a little over a month after conservative media figures like Tucker Carlson slammed M&M for making the green mascot character, well, less sexy. 

In response to Mars changing the green candy’s outfit, Carlson accused the Mars company of making its characters “as unattractive as possible because when you’re intentionally repulsive, it’s clear you’ve got the right politics.”

Not long after the right-wing backlash, M&M opted to replace its “spokescandies” with actress Maya Rudolph. 

The conservative outrage targeted at both Hershey and M&M is part of a larger culture war against any company that makes changes to address diversity, climate change, or other social issues. Brands like Xbox, “Sesame Street,” and more have at one point provoked the ire of Fox News hosts and other Republican figures. 

In fact, their outrage against these progressive changes has become so common that once #BoycottHershey was trending, some tweeted that they did not even have to click on the hashtag “to know that they must have done something compassionate that the right hates.”

See what others are saying: (The Daily Beast) (MarketWatch) (Bloomberg)

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