Since its founding in 2005, YouTube has exploded into the premier video hosting service that has not only provided endless entertainment for the masses, but has turned regular people into a kind of celebrity. These “YouTube Celebrities” aren’t always well-known to the general populous, but are widely known and adored by their many, many viewing fans.
Some of these celebrities include Philip DeFranco, PewDiePie, Lily Singh, and many, many others. They use their talents that would otherwise not be seen and share it online for the masses to consume. Their DIY approach to their talents is partly why they can so easily connect with their fans. Through the use of social media, fans can have direct contact with their idols.
Most of this contact is perfectly harmless: a joke is shared, gratitude is given, brief chats ensue, etc. But sometimes, this contact is exactly what a predator needs in order to pick out their next victim.
One of the most famous YouTubers, Austin Jones, used his massive celebrity in order to manipulate underage girls into sending him sexually explicit videos. After returning from a concert in Poland on June 12, Jones was arrested and charged with two counts of production of child pornography.
According to court documents, Jones was in communication with two underage female victims, 14 and 15, via Facebook, asking them to “prove” to him that they were his biggest fans by sending him sexually explicit videos. The document reads, “Jones used Facebook and Apple’s iMessage service to request and receive videos depicting the genitalia of minor females, knowing that they were only 14 or 15 years old.”
The document continues, “Homeland Security Investigations conducted a video taped interview of Jones, during which he waived his Miranda rights and agreed to speak with HIS. During that interview, Jones admitted that he had used Facebook to have sexually explicit chats with the girls; that he directed them to make videos of themselves dancing in a sexually explicit way and instructed them on what to wear, say, and do in the videos, including performing sexual acts, knowing that they were fourteen to fifteen years old; that he requested that they send the sexually explicit videos to him, either via Facebook or Apple’s iMessage service, and that he received the videos, viewed them, and masturbated while watching them.”
The nightmare doesn’t stop there. Jones dug deeper into his manipulation, challenging these girls’ fandom and that they should be working harder to please him.
Jones: “In your honest opinion, do you think your butt is good enough to give guys boners?”
Victim A: “Yes I have given guys boners with it many times.”
Jones: “It hasn’t given me a boner yet. That’s why I’m concerned.”
The conversation continued with Jones instructing her to position herself in different ways, urged her to continue even when she expressed that she was “tired and did not want to continue.”
Some might argue that some celebrities are unaware of their fans age. It’s true, sometimes people do appear to be older than they are, and plenty of celebrities have been presented with opportunities only to find out that their fans’ age was not as presented.
This was not the case for Austin Jones.
Jones: “Okay. Go make it clap super loud and talk about your age the whole time. Got it?”
Jones: “Clap it super loud. And say these lines: I’m only (age), yeah only (age) years old, this ass is only (age) years old.”
Throughout the video, this girl said those very lines. “I’m only 14 years old”, “yeah only 14 years old”, “this ass is only 14.”
This is not the first time Jones has been in trouble with asking fans to submit sexually explicit videos. Back in 2015, Jones issued an apology when presented with allegations that he tried to solicit “twerking” videos from underage girls.
He said in a lengthy Facebook apology: “I’m embarrassed. I’d have conversations online with girls that would involve me asking them to create a video of themselves twerking. Sometimes I’d make videos of myself doing some twerk moves in return. Here’s the truth: I NEVER asked them to do anything more than sending a twerking video. Nothing EVER went beyond that.”
It appears that that was a lie.
If convicted, Jones could spend up to 30 years in prison.
Being a fan can be dangerous, especially if you idolize a certain celebrity. Most celebrities are fine and don’t engage intimately with their fans. But some are predators and will use their celebrity as a means to get what they want. Being a celebrity, having everything you want handed to you, having crowds of people cheering your name, can turn creeps into monsters.
Austin Jones is one such monster.