Sexual misconduct strips “influencers” of influential title

Adrianna Miller, Enjelica Sangster, Features Editor, Staff Writer

Social media influencers have taken the world by storm. Many industries utilize them to promote different brands as they are very impactful within the younger generations. At times, however, individuals within this career take advantage of their ‘influence’ and use it against the youth. In recent events, social media influencers have been caught in sexual assault and pedophilia scandals–leaving the loyalty of their fans, as well as their careers, in jeopardy.

Popular beauty guru James Charles rose to fame in 2016 after he showcased his cosmetic talents in a high school yearbook photo. Since then, Charles has gained 25.3 million subscribers on YouTube and over a million followers on social media apps such as Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. 

Earlier this year, a 16-year-old male named Isaiyah made a series of Tik Tok videos accusing Charles of grooming him: he claimed Charles sent him sexual photos and requested sexual photos in return. Isaiyah’s videos were later deleted for violating community guidelines, but it reached a plethora of users–including Charles himself. 

“The accusation that I have groomed this person is completely false,” explained James Charles through Twitter. “…I asked him how old he was right away and he told me he was 18 so I started flirting back.”

Isaiyah replied to Charles stating that he was never asked for his age, but he did tell him that he was 16 years old. Isaiyah then claims that Charles did not care he was a minor and still requested a sexual photo saying “I wish the timeline could speed up so you can be 18.”

Weeks later, multiple minors had exposed James Charles for sending aggressive sexual messages amidst his knowledge of their young ages. On April 1, 2021, Charles uploaded an apology video to YouTube after two more 16-year old boys had shared explicit screenshots of their conversation with him. In his video, Charles confirms the two allegations and apologizes to the victims for his actions. He also blamed his actions on being ‘desperate’ and ‘vows to never again use social media for dating.’

Charles’ apology video reached over 11 million views, but the majority of viewers were not satisfied with him. They believe that this issue is not something that one just apologizes for, and takes time off of social media to ‘reflect and further educate’. The grooming of minors is a serious case that deserves serious attention and consequences.

“I think this whole situation is seriously inappropriate, but it also showcases the bigger issue of influencers not being held accountable for their actions,” commented freshman Adrian Miller. “Disappearing from social media for a couple of months is not going to do anything for the victims, and James probably won’t even reflect on his actions. He needs to face consequences from his team and other brands that endorse him.” 

Thousands of viewers have pushed for different brands to cut ties with Charles because this is not the first time he has been exposed for initiating sexual relations with minors. 

According to The Cut. “On April 16, Morphe, a cosmetic company that Charles has worked with since 2018, tweeted out simultaneous statements announcing that they would wind down…this announcement came after Morphe customers threatened to boycott the brand for continuing their collaboration with Charles.”

In addition to Morphe, YouTube also announced that Charles has been demonetized due to their ‘creator-responsibility policy’. This policy states “If we see a that a creator’s on and/or off-platform behavior harms our users, community, employees, or ecosystem, we may take action to protect the community.”

Charles is not the only influencer who has had brands distance themselves due to scandals concerning sexual misconduct. Popular Youtuber and influencer David Dobrik recently had multiple brands such as SeatGeek, Dollar Shave Club, Chipotle, EA sports, Audible, Door Dash, HBO Max, and more intend to no longer work with him after he and his team were exposed for sexual assault. 

“I think in extreme scandals it is important for brands to cut ties with certain individuals because essentially the brand could be promoting the wrong message,” emphasized senior Kaitlyn Myers. “Also, if these brands are continuously endorsing an influencer who is caught in a serious scandal then they could take a hit as well.”

Overall, the majority think that it is very important for influencers and content creators to receive consequences for serious scandals such as sexual misconduct. Social media influencers are supposed to influence positivity, so those that get exposed should not be surprised when they are stripped of their platform.


To find out more in-depth about Charles and Dobrik’s scandals, click the following links: