A week ago, Tumblr user Olga Breslavets came forward with sexual allegations against YouTuber Tom Milsom. After her posts went public, several other women came forward with sexual abuse claims against fellow YouTuber Alex Day, who ultimately admitted that he “spent a long part of my life doing s**tty things to good people and barely ever realising or acknowledging that I was doing the s**tty things.”
These accusations have made waves throughout the YouTube community. Both Milsom and Day were part of DFTBA Records, a label co-founded by Vlogbrother Hank Green. Both Milsom and Day have been removed from DFTBA Records, and in a recent video, Green took some time to discuss the topic of consent.
As Green explains, it is important for the YouTube community to recognize “predator/prey relationships,” a topic he plans to confront head-on.
“We’ve already started working with a group of Nerdfighters,” he explains in the video, “including some survivors of sexual abuse, who will working as a task force against abuse and assault.” He also announced his plan to “produce and fund a series of videos that discusses abuse and content and sexual relationships, especially in light of the new digital world.” Finally, he noted that he is “looking to partner with some existing sexual assault organizations to bring their work and their resources into our community and hopefully into other online communities as well.”
These topics are particularly important in the YouTube community, where young, influential, and powerful creators have the opportunity to interact directly with their fans, both through social media and events like Vidcon (where Milsom reportedly first met Breslavets when he was 21 and she was 14). This closeness between fan and creator can occasionally become a problem when creators (who, in many cases, begin as fans themselves) reach new levels of influence.
It is important that sexual education within the YouTube community recognizes this unbalanced dynamic. “How does one combat an atmosphere that breeds this kind of power imbalance?” asks The Daily Dot. Green’s proposed actions are a good start, but it is most important for young creators to be conscious of their power and influence and for their impressionable fans to be careful about the ways they interact with their idols.