YouTube stars are facing a backlash after using their channels to advertise controversial ‘mystery boxes’ to their millions of followers.
Jake Paul and Brian ‘RiceGum’ Le posted sponsored videos for a gambling website called Mystery Brand. The website encourages visitors to gamble between $2 and $1,300 to win mystery items.
Fellow YouTube personalities criticised the pair, who have more than 28 million YouTube subscribers combined, for promoting gambling to their young audiences.
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One video posted by Jake Paul, titled ‘I spent $5,000 on mystery boxes and you won’t believe what I won’, shows him paying thousands of dollars to click on various mystery boxes.
“Basically we partnered with this brand called Mysterybrand.net,” Mr Paul said in the video. “They have the dopest site and they have all the dopest products and stuff like that.
“On their site you can literally win like a Rolls Royce, you can win a bunch of Supreme stuff, you can win iPhones, iPads, all sorts of goods.”
The most expensive, advertised as “LV X Supreme High chances”, contains various clothing and accessories. Other categories include ‘women’s sneakers’, ‘tech box’ and ‘beauty box’.
After claiming to spend $5,000 on the mystery boxes, the highest value item Mr Paul won appeared to be an iPhone XS, which retails for around $1,000, and a pair of Yeezy shoes.
Several popular YouTubers criticised the sponsored videos, with some revealing that they had been offered $100,000 to run similar promotions for the loot box company.
PewDiePie, the world’s most popular YouTube channel, labelled these types of mystery box companies a “scam” in his own response video to the controversy.
“It seems like a bad idea to promote these kind of websites,” said PewDiePie, who also questioned the legitimacy of the videos.
“Something smells a bit fishy about this. They both won considerable amounts of items just from unboxxing just a few, at least what they showed. There’s a couple things wrong with this but I’ll start with the most obvious one: RiceGum and Jake Paul have considerably young fans. And promoting a website in general just seems like a bad idea for these people to do.”
In a previous interview with ABC News, Mr Paul acknowledged that his YouTube audience is mostly made up of children.
“My audience is definitely younger,” he said. “I’d say it’s like eight years-old to like 16 years-old, and so that’s where I try to like cater the content.”