ALESTLE VIEW: Influencers should be punished for abusing their power, like everyone else

Via UnSplash.

Warning: This piece contains some content related to sexual assault.

Influencers are a huge part of social media, but they are sometimes brewed in controversy.

It seems like it’s every other week that we hear some crazy drama coming from the cesspool that is YouTube. Usually it’s petty garbage, maybe one YouTuber said something controversial or disrespected another YouTuber in some minute way, but it’s never anything truly awful. When one of these influencers actually does something awful, we have to play our role in making these influencers pay the consequences for their actions.

Influencers should be held to the same standards as everyone else and wrongdoings shouldn’t be swept under the rug. Some influencers in a situation like this are James Charles and David Dobrik.

Charles is a 21-year-old YouTuber who focuses on makeup and beauty culture. Recently, he has admitted sending sexual messages to multiple teenage boys after many accusations. He isn’t really facing any drastic consequences for his actions. Most of the companies and brands Charles is partnered with have not cut ties with him yet or have even commented on the controversy.

Like Charles, Dobrik is a 24-year-old YouTuber who does vlogs and pranks on his channel, with a group of friends called The Vlog Squad. Dom Zeglaitis, a member of The Vlog Squad, was accused of raping a woman during the filming of one of Dobrik’s vidoes with Dobrik’s knowledge. Dobrik filmed himself and other members of The Vlog Squad listening and making jokes that were awful to hear.

These are the current biggest examples of influencers who have used their power to do wrong and these aren’t their first offenses, but they keep getting away with it because of their fans that ‘stan’ them. They have huge fandoms of mainly minors who watch their content, and we truly hope that it doesn’t affect how their behaviors develop. But making videos titled in the vein of, ‘WE CAUGHT HER IN BED LIKE THIS!!’ with a clickbait thumbnail of a half-naked woman in bed, or getting caught up in petty drama or using their power to get whatever they want (and that thing that the influencer wants is usually fairly unethical).

It isn’t uncommon for these influencers to be accused of doing something immoral, but it isn’t always proven true. One of two things happen when an influencer is accused of a crime. They are either completely forgiven and treated like angels after a single apology video. Or, in the other situation, large portions of the social media community just destroy and completely deplatform the influencer and really hurt the influencer’s viewership.

We should only judge influencers harshly when there is some genuine evidence of the influencer’s crime. Influencers are real people and we should treat them like real people. We can’t ignore heinous actions, but we shouldn’t attack them when their actions are unproven.

When evidence exists to prove the crime of the influencer, we should judge them for their actions, but we shouldn’t try to put them down when something happens to them just because we don’t like them.

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