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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

With over 18.5 million subscribers on YouTube, David Dobrik was one of the biggest influencers at the moment, he built an empire in over 6 years. Born in Slovakia, Dobrik came to the US when he was 6 and was raised in suburban Illinois, he started posting on Vine in high school and moved to YouTube back in 2016, and since then, he has never stopped.

The 24-year-old had 621 videos, accumulating 8 billion views on his main channel. Dobrik started vlogging him and his friends, now known as the Vlog Squad, hanging out, doing mundane activities, but as he started becoming more and more famous, his content changed.


The Vlog Squad

The group consists of over 20 people, all vloggers of their own, with Dobrik as their leader. Since everybody in the friend group is an internet personality, it became really easy to create content, because everyone wanted to appear in the videos. With the help of his friends, he makes comedic energetic short vlogs, with pranks and inside jokes, attempting to create a sitcom vlog, not letting the viewers know what is real, what is scripted.

Being featured in countless magazines, David Dobrik was a guest on Jimmy Fallon twice, co-host at the 2019 Teen Choice Awards with Lucy Hale, and was a judge in a Nickelodeon show in 2019, hosted a Discovery Channel show last year, and in 2020, The Wall Street Journal named him “Gen-Z’s Jimmy Fallon”. So, why is this rising star being called out?

gif of Jimmy Fallon saying "you're my best friend and I mean that"
Jimmy Fallon via GIPHY


The Allegations

In June 2017, Dobrik filmed a video titled “HE THOUGHT HE WAS KISSING HER!! (SUPER CRINGEY)”, it had over 10 million views before it was deleted. In the video, influencer Joseth “Seth” Francois is tricked into kissing YouTuber Jason Nash. Blindfolded, Francois thought he was kissing Instagram model Corrina Kopt, not a 47-year-old dad. He was sexually assaulted on camera by David’s instructions.

Seth came forward in June 2020 in a podcast episode, beyond the assault, he talked about his negative experience with the Vlog Squad, mentioning the racially insensitive jokes and comments made by the group.

A childhood friend of Dobrik and now ex-member of the Vlog Squad, Dominykas Zeglaitis, also known as Durte Dom, had a party 17 months later. A group of girls is invited to have a five-some with Zegaitis, he called his friends to come as well, along with David. A video was filmed and posted “SHE SHOULD NOT HAVE PLAYED WITH FIRE!!”, but what the 5 million viewers missed was the unconscious girl, as the footage was edited. The anonymous girl came forward in a Business Insider article, using the name Hannah, she claims she was raped by Zeglaitis while she was unconscious. Allegedly, the Vlog Squad bought alcohol for the girls, who at the time were not old enough to purchase themselves. The video was taken down a couple of months later. 

The article was focused solely on Hannah’s assault, yet multiple women are coming forward, claiming the same. Despite the friend group not knowing what Zeglaitis does to them, they still buy alcohol for underage girls.

woman holding up me too sign
Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash
Even though Dobrik himself was not the one to commit the assaults, he was the mastermind behind Seth’s. He neglected the girls with Dom. To him, it was more important to post a video, to produce content, than it was to assure the safety of others. Besides these situations, who knows how many people did something they did not want or were tricked into doing for the sake of a YouTube video? Not only did he allow everything to happen, but he also encouraged these bad things, he didn’t care. Still having permission to post the videos, it is very clear the toxic environment he created, where the people present felt the need to go along with the joke, it wasn’t consented by them, it was pressure. They were their fans and now they are their victims.


So Now What? 

After the articles and people coming forward, Dobrik stepped down from Dispo, the app he co-founded, and he and the Vlog Squad lost multiple sponsors, including Facebook, HBO Max, Bumble, Audible, Honey, Dollar Shave Club, HelloFresh, DoorDash, General Mills, Chipotle, who had a burrito named after him, EA Sports, who in 2019 gave him a Lamborghini, and SeatGeek, their biggest sponsor. 

Since the allegations, the YouTuber lost over 300 thousand subscribers. He posted two videos since, “Let’s talk” on March 16, a 2 minutes and 30 seconds video on his podcast YouTube page, a channel he shares with Nash, where he superficially talked about the situation. And on March 22, on his main channel, he posted a 7-minute video where he addressed the situation. He said sorry to his family and friends and Zeglaitis’ victims.

Apps upclose on a phone
Pixabay / Pexels
Before posting the apologies, he deleted multiple high-ranking videos, as his channel dropped 66 million views in a single day. In the last video, Dobrik also said he would be taking a short break from social media and will strive to create a healthy workspace to “be able to have people communicate discomfort in a way that’s comfortable to them”. He added he will be reaching out to people and is making himself available to anyone who wants to talk.

Beatriz Kawai

Casper Libero '24

A journalism student in love with feminism, art, movies, music and sometimes politics