A popular YouTuber has cut ties with an app he co-founded, after an allegation of rape was made against a former associate.
David Dobrik, 24, has stepped down from his involvement with invite-only image sharing app Dispo, after a woman who appeared in a video on his YouTube channel said she was raped by another person involved during filming.
A number of brands and investors have severed their ties with Dobrik, who denies any wrongdoing.
Here is everything you need to know about it.
Who is David Dobrik?
A US-based YouTuber, Dobrik first found fame on now defunct video-sharing app Vine (think a precursor to TikTok), before starting his own channel on YouTube in 2015.
As of February 2021, Dobrik's channel totalled 18.9 million subscribers and 8.2 billion views, 2.4 billion views of which came in 2019, when the channel was the fifth-most viewed creator channel on YouTube.
He is known as a member of YouTube’s popular “Vlog Squad”, which features a rotating selection of his friendship group making daily vlogs, high-energy videos which often feature pranks, inside jokes, other YouTube stars and celebrities, and various comedy characters.
In a profile, The Verge described Dobrik's vlog as “like Friends, but for vloggers.”
"Essentially, Dobrik created the first sitcom-vlog,” they said. “There are musical transitions, a returning cast of characters that drive the story forward, and Dobrik’s laughter acts as a laugh track for viewers."
Speaking at the 2019 Streamy Awards, where the Vlog Squad had just won the Ensemble Cast prize, Dobrik said: "I have a group of like, 15, 20, 30 friends, and they help me day in and day out with all the videos."
Dobrik was born in 1996 in Košice, Slovakia, before his family moved to Illinois when he was six years old; after graduating high school, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his Vine career.
He co-founded invite-only image sharing app Dispo in 2019. The app has been compared to Instagram, though users don't have immediate access to the photos they create, and instead must wait for them to ‘develop’ before they are posted at 9am the following day.
On 16 March 2021, Insider reported that during the filming of a 2018 vlog about group sex, an extra was allegedly raped by a then Vlog Squad member.
According to the report, the extra was given alcohol despite being under the legal drinking age of 21, and became “drunk to the point of unconsciousness” and unable to consent.
The video did not show the alleged incident, but was published on Dobrik’s channel before being removed later. Police were not informed and no charges were filed against the alleged perpetrator, Insider said.
What has Dobrik said?
Dobrik’s lawyer told Insider that the YouTuber was “appalled” by the misconduct attributed to the former member of the Vlog Squad, and that, “assuming it is true, my client denies any wrongdoing.”
Since the allegations came to light, a number of investors and brands previously associated with Dobrik have cut ties with him and the Dispo app.
Spark Capital, a venture capital firm and a leading investor in the app, announced it would “sever all ties” with the company; HelloFresh, EA Sports and Dollar Shave Club are among other brands that have distanced themselves from Dobrik.
What else has he been accused of?
It's not the first time Dobrik has come under fire.
Several clips of Dobrik resurfaced on social media where he used the N-word, and he also received criticism for an old video with an ex-girlfriend, in which they rated Japanese confectionery while mocking Asian accents.
What did he say in his Let’s Talk video?
On the day of the Business Insider report, Dobrik released a video titled ‘Let's Talk’ in which he addressed recent controversies related to him.
These included previous Vlog Squad members’ allegations of bullying and sexual assault, but Dobrik’s video did not specifically address the rape allegations.
In February, a former Vlog Squad member accused Dobrik of assault after being deceived into kissing another member while blindfolded.
He said he was inspired to come forward after another former member described his time in the Vlog Squad as “toxic” and compared the group to a “cult.”
"Consent is something that's super, super-important to me," Dobrik said in the Let's Talk video.
"Whether I am shooting with a friend, or I am shooting with a stranger, I make sure whatever video I am putting out, I have the approval from that person."