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YouTube has demonetized videos by beauty influencer and makeup artist James Charles, after accusations that he groomed and sexted boys on social media.
Charles has been temporarily removed from YouTube’s partner program, which allows him to earn advertising revenue from his videos, as part of the video platform’s efforts to enforce its Creator Responsibility Policy.
It comes after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, including accusations that Charles, 21, exchanged explicit messages and images with underage boys.
“We can confirm that we have applied our Creator Responsibility Policy and temporarily removed James Charles from the YouTube partner program,” YouTube said in a statement to The Guardian.
The company did not state if or when Charles would be allowed back into its program. Charles, who is gay, currently has 25.5 million subscribers on the platform and has gained more than 3.4 billion views.
The move came after makeup brand Morphe ended its working relationship with Charles last week.
“In light of the recent allegations against James Charles, Morphe and James have agreed to end our business relationship and wind down sales of the Morphe X James Charles product offering,” the company tweeted.
“It is and has always been Morphe’s goal to create a positive, safe, and empowering space where all beauty lovers can freely share their artistry and passion for cosmetics,” Morphe continued, adding that it was “committed to furthering that goal.”
Accusations of Charles exchanging inappropriate and sexually explicit messages with minors emerged at the start of the year.
At least two boys, who both said they were under the age of 18, accused Charles of soliciting nude photos from them and exchanging explicit messages and photos with them.
In one video that was circulated on TikTok and Twitter, a minor accused Charles of “grooming” him.
Charles initially responded to the allegations in a tweet on February 26, calling accusations of grooming “completely false.”
He said that he added the accuser on Snapchat after noticing that he followed Charles on Instagram. The accuser then sent “lewd photos of himself,” which Charles said prompted him to ask how old the accuser was.
“He told me he was 18 so I started flirting back,” he wrote.
Charles claims that after exchanging messages he “questioned the validity of his original age” and the user “admitted he was 16.” After some back and forth, in which he said the minor became upset, “I unfriended him. We haven’t spoken since.”
However, the following day, a second minor — who said he was 17 — accused Charles of inappropriate messages. He accused Charles of continuing to flirt with him, even after learning that he was only 17 years old.
At the end of March, another minor, who said he was 16, shared images of messages allegedly sent by Charles to him on Snapchat.
The next day, April 1, Charles addressed the allegations in a YouTube video titled “holding myself accountable.”
In the video, Charles said his accusers had lied to him about their age and he believed them to be 18.
“I trusted the information that was given to me rather than the information I could have and should have gotten myself,” he said.
Charles said that as he did “more research on these topics and self-reflected, I realized that the receipts and the screenshots and the specific details of the interaction really don’t matter, because I fucked up, and I needed to take accountability for my actions and most importantly apologize to the people that were affected by them.”
Charles said he knew of at least two instances where people he had been messaging had been 16 years old, with one taking place last year and another this year.
He added: “To the guys involved in this situation. I want to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I added you [on social media], I’m sorry that I flirted with you, and I’m really sorry if I made you uncomfortable. It is completely unacceptable. I was being reckless.”
Charles said he had been using YouTube as a “dating app,” but that he should have “been more careful in every single way.”
“I owe a massive apology to anybody that I’ve hurt or anybody that I’ve made uncomfortable with my actions,” he added. “And I also want to say I’m sorry to my friends, family and fans that have to watch another one of these videos because you shouldn’t have to and this is really, really embarrassing.”
In 2019, fellow YouTube beauty influencer and makeup artist Tati Westbrook accused Charles of coercing straight men into sexual acts in a since-deleted video.
Westbrook said it was part of the reason she was ending her friendship with Charles, after claiming he had “tried to trick a straight man into thinking he’s gay, yet again.”
“And somehow, you’re the victim. It’s really disgusting to manipulate someone’s sexuality especially when they’re emerging into adulthood and don’t quite have everything figured out,” she said.
Westbrook also accused Charles of threatening to “ruin” and “embarrass” any man who refuted his advances, saying, “To have them behave sexually in your favor even if they’re straight — that’s not okay.”
Charles responded to the allegations in a since-deleted video of his own, saying he had “been involved in a lot of unique and strange situations that have left people confused and upset, and I’ve learned the hard way about boys that I’m interested in and ones I should or shouldn’t be talking to.”
He later called Westbrook’s comments “disgusting” and “very dangerous” in an interview with Paper magazine, and said they implied “that gay men are all predatory, which is disgusting, not true and very dangerous to put out there. The whole situation was scary for the LGBTQ+ community and paints a really bad picture of gay men.”
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