• Cheek

Delayed reporting of Jake Paul sexual assault allegations

Updated: Jun 29, 2021

This article contains talk of sexual assault and may not be suitable for some readers.

TikTok start Justine Paradise recently uploaded a video to her YouTube channel accusing well-known YouTuber and ex-Disney Channel start Jake Paul of sexual assault. Many YouTube commentary channels posted videos about the allegation in the following days, but traditional media outlets took a while to pick up the story. A Google News search on Jake Paul four days after the video was posted yielded no results of the allegation. It took most media outlets five days to report on the story.

YouTube and influencer culture has, and continues to be, for the most part, ignored by traditional media platforms. This might look to some to be a non-issue, but when serious allegations about huge internet celebrities, like Jeffree Star, Shane Dawson, James Charles, and of course Jake Paul come to light, is it in the public interest to report, as they would if it were a 'mainstream' celeb?

It's widely agreed that the power enjoyed by celebs (internet and otherwise) can be abused. There have been multiple reports of celebrities taking advantage of fans, and committing crimes. Some experts have posed the question as to whether fame 'makes' them do it, or at least makes them think they can get away with it. In this age, internet celebs are equivalent to their movie star and singer counterparts, with huge followings and considerable influence, particularly with young people and children.

The internet, particularly YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram, mostly has to police itself. With commentary channels and creators who 'report' and comment on the 'news' on the platform, these communities almost exist with their own ecosystem, and under their own rules. And maybe that's okay when the scandal at hand is some dodgy merchandise, ugly makeup launch, or cheating allegations. But is it enough when the issues have the potential to be criminal?

Scandals online have increased in scale in the past few years, with creators even being run off their platforms. Shane Dawson all but left the internet when pushback and criticism of his inappropriate humour and actions toward minors and racist jokes and skits (many of which included blackface) became too much for him to handle. Jeffree Star faced many similar controversies. Recently, makeup guru James Charles was accused of grooming and sexually harassing minors.

Videos by online commentators simply aren't enough of a reaction to serious allegations of crime. Traditional media outlets must take these topics and celebrities seriously for the world to consume. It doesn't take News Corp five days to report on a scandal involving Johnny Depp - why does it take that long for Jake Paul?