Having made some $15.5 million from the summer of 2019 to last June, simply for posting videos of him and his "Vlog Squad" pulling pranks and generally wreaking havoc around the city of Los Angeles, David Dobrik thought he knew funny.
It started with one of his former collaborators Joseth Francois (known as Seth in his Vlog Squad clips) talking about Dobrik's June 2017 upload "HE THOUGHT HE WAS KISSING HER!! (SUPER CRINGEY)." As the title suggests, Francois believed that he was kissing a female Instagram model in disguise, only to learn he was actually locking lips with male comedian Jason Nash, something he told Buzzfeed News he did not consent to, labeling it as sexual assault.
Then came the March 16 Business Insider article, in which a woman using the pseudonym of Hannah said that she met up with Dobrik and other squad members, including Dominykas Zeglaitis, in November 2018. Hannah alleged that Dobrik filmed her and Zeglaitis entering a bedroom where they had a sexual encounter she says she was too intoxicated to consent to. Days later a since-deleted clip titled "SHE SHOULD NOT HAVE PLAYED WITH FIRE!!" was uploaded showing Zeglaitis joking about having a "fivesome" with a few women.
Though Zeglaitis didn't respond to Business Insider's request for comment, Dobrik's attorney released a statement to E! News saying, in part, that "anyone who knows him knows he does not condone misconduct in any form" and that "any insinuation of wrongdoing is inaccurate and defamatory. And Dobrik himself posted a video podcast hours after the story was published.
Stressing that "consent is something that's super, super important to me," he insisted he "always" gets approval from those appearing in his videos and will take anything down if someone asks. Still, he allowed, "There's also been moments where I've looked back on videos, and I realize that these don't represent me anymore, and they're hurtful to other people, and I don't want them up because I've grown as a content creator and as a person. And I don't agree with some of the videos I've posted."
With "the Seth situation," he continued, "I missed the mark with that one, and I'm really sorry. I truly, truly am."
As for Zeglaitis, Dobrik had distanced himself from him and others "because I don't align with some of the actions, and I don't stand for any kind of misconduct," he explained. "I've been really disappointed by some of my friends, and for that reason, I've separated from a lot of them." (E! News reached out to Zeglaitis for comment and has not heard back.)
Despite Dobrik's mea culpa, within days he'd gone from industry It Boy to toxic outsider, stepping down from his photo sharing app Dispo "to not distract from the company's growth," and watching as DoorDash, HelloFresh, EA Sports and Dollar Shave Club distanced themselves from his brand like he was a played-out TikTok dance.
Acknowledging that change was needed, the 24-year-old apologized again March 23 and announced a break from social media "because I realize there's a serious lack of infrastructure when I make any kind of content and I wanna be able to have a place of checks and balances, I wanna have HR and I wanna be able to have people communicate discomfort in a way that's comfortable to them and where they don't feel like their emotions or what they're doing or how they're acting is compromised."
Basically, he explained, he couldn't go back to sharing his brand of gross-out humor without some real accountability: "I think it is important to show that change is possible and that I'm learning and maybe even forgiveness is possible. I want to use this opportunity to step up and own my mistakes."
And he's not the only one having to take a hard look at himself in selfie mode.
Something Navy blogger Arielle Charnas was decimated online last spring for traveling to the Hamptons after revealing she'd contracted coronavirus. Shane Dawson surrendered his YouTube crown, saying of his previous content, "I have done a lot of things in my past that I hate, that I wish I could make go away." And, most recently, author Rachel Hollis learned a harsh lesson about privilege.
Once the career choice most desired by Bachelor hopefuls, influencers pocket beaucoup cash, free trips and other swanky perks for posting Instagram ads, crafting quippy captions and maintaining a dedicated social media presence that lets fans in on their authentic, yet very carefully cultivated, self. Though it requires a willingness to overshare and the constant pressure to be on 24/7, for the right personality, it's not a bad gig
Until you step your Proenza Schouler-clad toe in it.
A whole host of Internet personalities have gotten called out in recent months, their missteps ranging from the relatively benign and somewhat forgivable to—at their most egregious—actions that could have a truly detrimental effect on a society kinda struggling to keep it all together after the 2020 of it all.
Allow us to recount the errors of their ways.