A different sort of crowd amassed outside of YouTube star Jake Paul‘s mansion in Calabasas, Calif., on Wednesday morning. Rather than groups of raucous young people, which Paul is renowned for having at his home, this time it was a group of uniformed FBI agents — including a SWAT team — there to conduct a search of the property.
YouTube is an American online video-sharing platform headquartered in San Bruno, California. Three former PayPal employees—Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim—created the service in February 2005. Google bought the site in November 2006 for US$1.65 billion; YouTube now operates as one of Google’s subsidiaries.
YouTube allows users to upload, view, rate, share, add to playlists, report, comment on videos, and subscribe to other users. It offers a wide variety of user-generated and corporate media videos. Available content includes video clips, TV show clips, music videos, short and documentary films, audio recordings, movie trailers, live streams, and other content such as video blogging, short original videos, and educational videos. Most content on YouTube is uploaded by individuals, but media corporations including CBS, the BBC, Vevo, and Hulu offer some of their material via YouTube as part of the YouTube partnership program. Unregistered users can only watch (but not upload) videos on the site, while registered users are also permitted to upload an unlimited number of videos and add comments to videos. Videos that are age-restricted are available only to registered users affirming themselves to be at least 18 years old.
YouTube and selected creators earn advertising revenue from Google AdSense, a program which targets ads according to site content and audience. The vast majority of its videos are free to view, but there are exceptions, including subscription-based premium channels, film rentals, as well as YouTube Music and YouTube Premium, subscription services respectively offering premium and ad-free music streaming, and ad-free access to all content, including exclusive content commissioned from notable personalities. As of February 2017, there were more than 400 hours of content uploaded to YouTube each minute, and one billion hours of content being watched on YouTube every day. As of August 2018, the website is ranked as the second-most popular site in the world, according to Alexa Internet, just behind Google. As of May 2019, more than 500 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Based on reported quarterly advertising revenue, YouTube is estimated to have US$15 billion in annual revenues.
YouTube has faced criticism over aspects of its operations, including its handling of copyrighted content contained within uploaded videos, its recommendation algorithms perpetuating videos that promote conspiracy theories and falsehoods, hosting videos ostensibly targeting children but containing violent or sexually suggestive content involving popular characters, videos of minors attracting pedophilic activities in their comment sections, and fluctuating policies on the types of content that is eligible to be monetized with advertising.
YouTube star Jake Paul's home raided by FBI, multiple guns seized
A judge sealed the search-warrant affidavit, and Eimiller said she couldn’t reveal the nature of the investigation or the person to whom it was served.
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YouTube star Jake Paul's home raided by FBI, multiple guns seized
However, Jill McCabe, an FBI Phoenix field office spokeswoman, told The Washington Post that “the FBI is investigating allegations of criminal acts surrounding the incident at Scottsdale Fashion Square in May 2020. This morning the FBI executed federal search warrants in California and Las Vegas, Nevada, in connection with this investigation.”
The “incident” being referred to is a riot that took place at a Scottsdale, Ariz., shopping mall, which fired up during protests against police brutality and the death of George Floyd in May. Paul and his production crew recorded the riot.
“We understand that a search warrant was executed at Jake’s Calabasas home this morning while Jake was out-of-state,” said Paul’s lawyer Richard Schonfeld. “We are still gathering information and will cooperate with the investigation.”
Video from local TV news helicopters showed agents gathering several rifles from the sprawling property with a boxing ring and hot tub in the backyard that appears in many of Paul’s recent YouTube videos.
No arrests were made, despite the number of guns found on the property. It’s not immediately clear if the guns are registered or whether they belong to Paul.
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Police in Scottsdale said Wednesday they were dismissing charges of criminal trespassing and unlawful assembly against Paul and two others “so that a federal criminal investigation can be completed,” but that they may be refiled later.
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At the time, Paul defended his presence at the mall as activists criticized him for exploiting protests for hits and traffic.
“To be absolutely clear, neither I nor anyone in our group was engaged in any looting or vandalism,” he said in a statement the day after the riot. “I do not condone violence, looting or breaking the law.”
Last month, Calabasas mayor Alicia Weintraub chastised Paul after he threw a massive party in his mansion amid a coronavirus case spike in Los Angeles County. According to multiple media reports, there was minimal mask-wearing and virtually no attempts at social distancing.
“It’s just a big huge disregard for everything that everybody is trying to do to get things back to functioning,” said Weintraub at the time. “It’s really just a party acting like COVID does not exist; it’s acting that businesses aren’t closed.”
Apparently, Weintraub and Paul had a discussion, burying the hatchet without any charges being laid.
Paul, 23, has over 20 million followers on his YouTube channel, which features stunts, pranks, stories from his personal life, and more recently music videos.
He rose to fame on the short video app Vine and spent two years as an actor on the Disney Channel show Bizaardvark. (He was ousted from the Disney show following multiple complaints from his neighbours about increasingly wild stunts at his home.)
His older brother, Logan Paul, has a similar YouTube channel with even more followers, and has also had his own controversies, including the filming of a dead body in Japan.
— With files from The Associated Press
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