Kate Hedger | Head Editor
March 26, 2021
One of the most famous influencers and YouTubers on the internet, David Dobrik, has found himself in hot water as allegations come forward that he was complicit in sexual assault. These allegations would have remained speculation if it wasn’t for the fact that Dobrik caught the entire night on video and posted it to his youtube channel with 10 million subscribers.
Dobrik started his internet career on the popular app “Vine” and later transitioned to YouTube where his videos gained attention for their unique format. Dobrik created four-minute and twenty-second videos of him and his friend group (known as “The Vlog Squad”) doing dangerous stunts, hilarious pranks, and always outdoing their previous video. Dobrik was the ringleader of it all and wasn’t afraid to go outside of the box. This, combined with the face pace of his content, kept his audience coming back week after week.
Public opinion during the majority of Dobrik’s career was incredibly positive. His quirkiness and likability propelled him to a status where many thought he could do no wrong. He was the good guy on YouTube, everybody liked him and he was always making people laugh.
This positive public perception all changed when a story by Kat Tenbarge from Business Insider broke on March 16th describing an incident involving a member of the vlog squad being accused of rape. This situation was edited and uploaded by Dobrik onto his youtube channel, sharing this woman’s traumatic experience with millions.
The particular vlog was filmed in 2018 and involved a member of the vlog squad known as “Durte Dom” chatting with seven female college students over Instagram. He said over DM that he wanted to “hook up” with them and invited the girls to come film with him, Dobrik, and the rest of the vlog squad. The girls agreed, excited to spend an evening with their favorite youtube stars. A girl named Hannah, who was one of the seven who went to Dobriks that night, took part in a phone interview with Business Insider where she accused Dom of rape.
Hannah said that she didn’t know what to expect that night but was up for an adventure. When she and her friends arrived, the vlog squad supplied her and her friends with alcohol despite them being underage. Dobrik filmed the entire night, including Hannah going into a bedroom with Durte Dom. Hannah claims that she was so incapacitated by alcohol that there was no way for her to consent.
Hannah and her friend Sarah told Insider that they never intended to have group sex with Dom that night. They said the situation was high pressure the moment they walked in and it felt like an environment where saying “no” was not an option. It was clear to the vlog squad that the girls were not interested in sex with Dom. “After a couple of minutes of talking, it was clear there was no five-some happening,” Dobrik said in a voice-over during the vlog. But added, “by some stroke of luck and master negotiating, Dom made progress.” Dobrik uploaded the video to his youtube as a “threesome” plot, including clips of Hannah going into a room with Dom and vlog squad members peeking in to watch them have sex. At Hannah’s request Dobrik later took down the video, but at that point, it had already hit over 5 million views.
“I really liked David Dobrik and always thought he was one of the most unproblematic influencers so I’m really sad to see this come out,” senior Makena Viera said.
Dobrik uploaded an apology video to his least subscribed to youtube channel titled “let’s talk,” which ironically had the comment section turned off. After receiving more public backlash and losing at least 10 of his biggest sponsors, such as Doordash and Seat Geek, Dobrik uploaded another apology video on his main channel taking accountability for his actions.
Some fans quickly accepted his apology but others were not impressed. Some criticism was over the fact that he didn’t apologize to the victim directly, yet posted an apology video on his account with the least amount of traction, and only truly took accountability once his sponsors dropped him. There has also been talk that Dobrik asked members of the vlog squad to cover for him and defend him online. Many are upset that Dobrik gave Dom a platform while being aware of his predatory nature and are waiting to see real change before they can accept his apology.
“It is really disappointing to see how social media affects our perception of influencers,” sophomore Sofia Sipelis said. “Clearly even someone as famous and seemingly kind as David Dobrik has legitimate flaws that aren’t visible in a curated video.”
Diehard fans of Dobrik think that the public is overreacting and that cancel culture has unfairly damaged David’s career. Others find it important to make a distinction between canceling someone and holding them accountable. Love him or not, David was complicit in sexual assault, gave a platform to a predator, and mishandled his power. If he is able to show real growth and learn from this situation then he might be able to regain his positive status, but if not, it might be best that he stays away from the limelight for a while.