YouTube has temporarily blocked David Dobrik and now former Vlog Squad member Dominykas Zeglaitis, also known as Durte Dom, from making money off ads on its platform following a rape allegation against Zeglaitis.
“We have strict policies that prohibit sexual harassment on YouTube and take allegations of sexual assault very seriously. We have temporarily suspended monetization on David Dobrik and Durte Dom channels for violating our Creator Responsibility policy,” a YouTube spokesperson told Insider.
YouTube said it had suspended monetization for three channels operated by Dobrik – David Dobrik, David Dobrik Too, and “Views,” a video podcast co-hosted by Dobrik and Jason Nash – as well as Zeglaitis’ personal channel.
On March 16, Insider’s Kat Tenbarge reported that a woman who had appeared in a 2018 video about group sex with members of the Vlog Squad said she was raped by Zeglaitis and that the video’s portrayal of the sex as consensual was inaccurate.
After Dobrik initially sought to distance himself from the allegations in a video last week, he then posted a second video on Monday apologizing for not originally taking the allegations seriously and saying “I fully believe the woman.”
Zeglaitis has not commented publicly on the allegations and declined to comment when Insider contacted him in early March.
The fallout has been swift, with a wave of advertisers, sponsors, and investors, distancing themselves from the group.
Insider is taking you behind the scenes of our best stories with our series The Inside Story.
This week we’re spotlighting Insider digital-culture reporter Kat Tenbarge, who made big waves with her investigation into rape allegations made against a member of YouTube star David Dobrik’s Vlog Squad.
You cover influencers and follow the Vlog Squad closely. How did you come across Hannah’s story?
I started digging into the Vlog Squad after two former members spoke out about toxicity in the group, from calling it a cult to accusations of sexual assault. While reaching out to people who were involved in the group, I had conversations with other reporters who have covered the Vlog Squad. One of those conversations unearthed a tip from a couple of years ago about a woman who said she was raped by a member of the Vlog Squad. I was put in contact with her, and we started talking. Eventually her story would become Hannah’s claims.
How long did it take for the story to come together, and what was the hardest part of reporting it?
From my first conversation with Hannah, it took just under two weeks for this story to get published. Sometimes investigations take months, but part of what made this story so fast-paced was the timing. There was a growing online backlash to the claims that were already brought forward publicly by former Vlog Squad members, and I wanted to make sure Hannah’s story came out at the peak of that interest.
The hardest part was making sure the most crucial element of the story – the rape accusation – was kept under wraps. I spoke with top YouTubers during the reporting process, and I didn’t want the claims to leak ahead of time.
Were there legal hurdles you needed to navigate?
Yes. This is my third time investigating rape accusations, and the most difficult part often involves bringing those claims to the accused and dealing with pushback. This time, we didn’t get a response from the man who was accused of rape. But we did hear back from David Dobrik’s lawyers, and part of the reporting process was responding to the issues they took with our story. Ultimately they provided a statement to us, which we included in the story.
Your investigation was picked up widely, both on YouTube and on mainstream celebrity sites like People and Vulture. What feedback did you get from readers?
The response was, fortunately, overwhelmingly positive. As I said, timing is everything with a story like this. If it had run a few years ago, at the height of the Vlog Squad’s popularity, the response would likely have been very different. But readers were already uncomfortable with what former Vlog Squad members were claiming. Hannah’s story cemented the idea that the environment Dobrik created was dangerous. This time, an innocent bystander got caught up in that.
It also helped that Hannah and her friends who spoke with me had plenty of evidence to back up their claims. The text Hannah sent Dom Zeglaitis – the man she accused of raping her – in particular struck a chord with readers. A lot of survivors of sexual assault or rape said they felt this piece resonated with them.
Influencers like the Vlog Squad and the Paul Brothers continue to make millions through their fratty “bro culture” videos and podcasts, even following the #MeToo movement. Why do you think this type of content is still so popular with viewers?
One reason is that a lot of their viewers skew young. Kids, tweens, and teenagers often have different standards than adults for what qualifies as entertaining or admirable. Young viewers may think it’s impressive to have sex with a lot of women because they’re not emotionally mature enough to consider the perspective of someone like Hannah, who was objectified throughout the video. But it’s not just young people who consume misogynistic content, and not every viewer of the Paul Brothers or Vlog Squad likes the content they’re seeing.
A side effect of YouTube’s click-driven culture is that even negative comments and dislikes boost watch numbers and watch times. It’s a phenomenon that has led to a lot of controversial people finding profit and fame online, even if they’re widely looked down upon.
Do you think there is a culture among YouTubers to do almost anything for views and clicks? Where are the boundaries when it comes to creating compelling content and exploitation?
There is undeniably a culture of pushing moral, legal, and ethical boundaries for clicks. We see this all the time, from invasive family vlogs to dangerous pranks and stunts. YouTube as a company isn’t big enough to moderate every single piece of content that gets posted, and it doesn’t have rules that govern every single form of exploitation. So what ends up happening most of the time is that the boundary and consequences are decided by the audience.
When Logan Paul filmed a dead body, the mainstream media condemned him, and YouTube followed suit by temporarily demonetizing his channel, which prevented him from making money from advertising on his videos. But when there isn’t a huge backlash that results in a loss of income, influencers learn they can get away with harmful clickbait, even if it seriously hurts people.
What are the biggest themes to watch right now on the influencers beat?
Every beat boils down to power – who has it, and how they use it. Right now I’m looking at a landscape of influencers who have fame, money, and a unique position of power over their fan bases. There aren’t as many mainstream gatekeepers when it comes to online content, and as a culture we’re starting to recognize the consequences of that. The major theme I’m looking out for is abuse of power in relationships between influencers and their fans, their industry, and each other.
I’m also exploring how social-media platforms are manipulated by users, and the responsibility platforms have as publishers. There is so much left to be uncovered on this beat because this industry operates in the limelight. It’s everywhere, but few people are looking past the shiny superstardom to see what goes on in the shadows.
A group of seven college students was on their way to meet David Dobrik, but Hannah didn’t know who he was.
The friends piled into one of their cars to go shoot a video with Dobrik’s YouTube-famous posse, the Vlog Squad. Hannah knew her friends watched videos made by the group, yet had no idea how famous they really were.
Earlier that day, some of the students had begun chatting over Instagram with a Vlog Squad member who went by the name Durte Dom. Dom, whose real name is Dominykas Zeglaitis, said he wanted to “hook up” with them – according to direct-message transcripts reviewed by Insider – and some of Hannah’s friends were interested.
Hannah, a 20-year-old sophomore at a private liberal-arts school in Los Angeles at the time, didn’t know what to expect, but she was up for an adventure.
She said she couldn’t have predicted what would happen that evening, and that the events have left her with trauma.
It was a rule that became fodder for jokes among associates inside the $450 billion investment giant Apollo Global Management.
In May, the coheads of Apollo’s $80 billion private-equity business, Matt Nord and David Sambur, banned work calls and emails from Friday to Saturday evenings.
The move was meant to create a small respite in a workplace that, even by Wall Street’s standards, had become notorious for its blowtorch pace. But like some other efforts to improve the work-life balance at Apollo, the rule quickly faded from view.
Associates told Insider partners at the firm compensated for the communications hiatus by piling on extra work on Saturday night. Within a month, it seemed as though the mandated break had disappeared, said two associates, one of whom has since left.
Now the firm is grappling with the departure of a large portion of its associate class, an exodus that chips away at the manpower necessary to sustain its active deal flow. It’s a trend that’s accelerated in the past few years, according to current and former Apollo employees, and is now crescendoing as Wall Street at large reckons with psychological tensions stemming from remote work.
On November 12, Mailchimp CEO Ben Chestnut sent a Slack message to his employees saying he “wanted to acknowledge the elephant in the room.”
“We’ve had more people than usual leave the company lately, including some great leaders,” he said in the message, which was viewed by Insider.
Those departures included many of Mailchimp’s highest-ranking women and people of color. Chestnut said he was “interested” in how these departures would impact Mailchimp’s diversity, and thanked its employee resource groups for “raising this concern,” but said higher attrition rates are “normal and expected for a high-growth company” like Mailchimp and that “there’s nothing going on behind the scenes that you should worry about.”
But Chestnut had apparently failed to mention possibly the biggest elephant in the room, which would soon spark a lot of worry among employees: Shareka Nelson, Mailchimp’s first head of diversity, equity, and inclusion, would be leaving the company within a week, despite being hired barely a year earlier.
Chase Coleman’s Tiger Global Management was by some measures the top hedge fund last year.
Riding a 48% return from its flagship fund, the firm returned $10.4 billion to its investors in 2020, the most among the 20 top-performing hedge funds tracked by LCH Investments, a fund-of-funds firm.
In the anniversary letter written at the end of February, the secretive Coleman took investors inside the early days at Tiger Global and explained how some of the firm’s home runs happened – and mentioned some of the fund’s major whiffs and growing pains along the way.