Sponsors Fleeing Popular YouTuber After Allegations

David Dobrik under fire after member of his Vlog Squad is accused of rape
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2021 1:12 PM CDT
Updated Mar 28, 2021 2:32 PM CDT
Popular YouTuber Faces a Reckoning
David Dobrik arrives at the Teen Choice Awards on Aug. 11, 2019, in Hermosa Beach, Calif.   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

His name is David Dobrik, and the 24-year-old has established himself as one of the most popular content creators on YouTube with his "Vlog Squad" colleagues. Now, however, Dobrik is fast losing sponsors and subscribers after rape allegations were lodged against a member of his crew, reports NBC News. Coverage:

  • The celebrity: Dobrik first rose to fame on the now-defunct Vine before shifting to YouTube, where he and his crew make videos around Los Angeles, usually featuring some kind of prank, per the Washington Post. Dobrik's YouTube channel has about 19 million subscribers, and his newfound riches and popularity resulted in the Wall Street Journal anointing him "Gen Z's Jimmy Fallon" in a profile last year.

  • Allegations: Insider published an account of a 20-year-old woman who alleges that she and friends went to meet with Dobrik and members of the Vlog Squad in 2018, were given alcohol, and that while she was incapacitated one of them raped her. Dobrik filmed the group and later posted a video of edited footage that shows the Vlog Squad joking about having sex with the women and the woman entering Dom Zeglaitis' bedroom with him. It was titled, "SHE SHOULD NOT HAVE PLAYED WITH FIRE!!" The video was removed when the woman complained, though by then it had received 5 million views. No criminal charges have been filed in the case, and the woman has not reported it to authorities.
  • Fallout: HelloFresh, Seat Geek, the Dollar Shave Club, DoorDash, EA Sports, Audible, Facebook, and Spark Capital are among the companies that have immediately cut ties with Dobrik, per NBC and the New York Times. Dobrik also announced that he is stepping down from the board of Dispo, a photo-sharing app he launched.
  • Another: Last month, former Vlog Squad member Seth Francois, 26, told BuzzFeed that Dobrik in 2017 tricked him into participating in a video that he now views as sexual assault. In that one, Dobrik duped Francois into kissing a male YouTuber, though Francois thought it was a woman. “I remember sitting in my room in Atlanta [last year] and I was thinking to myself, 'That video was wrong,'" says Francois. "I just felt like that shouldn’t have happened to me.”
  • Apologies: Dobrik posted a video in which he says that "consent is something that’s super, super important to me," and while he doesn't explicitly address the Insider allegations, he does apologize to Francois. In a subsequent video, he says, "I want to start this video by saying I fully believe the woman who came out against Dom [Zeglaitis] and said she was sexually assaulted and raped by him." He adds: "I was completely disconnected from that fact that when people were invited to film videos with us, especially videos that relied on shock for views, or whatever it was, that I was creating an unfair power dynamic."
(More YouTube stories.)

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