YouTube sensation MrBeast is facing criticism for his latest video.
With over 130 million subscribers and counting, MrBeast— real name Jimmy Donaldson— is one of the most influential people on the internet. And while questions about the ethical implications of his content have been raised before, some feel his latest video has pushed it too far.
On Sunday, MrBeast uploaded a video titled “1,000 Blind People See For The First Time” in which he paid for 1,000 surgeries for blind patients around the world.
This included hundreds of people from countries where the surgery is not available, including Namibia, Mexico, Honduras, Indonesia, Brazil, Vietnam, Kenya, and Jamaica.
In true MrBeast fashion, he also gave away $10K to select patients, $50K to someone about to start college, and a Tesla to a patient who always wanted a car.
Despite the life-changing results for these 1,000 people, many social media users have questioned the intention behind MrBeast’s altruism.
Twitter user @LolOverruled shared a screenshot of the video— which is currently #1 on YouTube’s trending page— writing, “There is something so demonic about this and I can’t even articulate what it is”.
Thousands of people have since quoted-tweeted his take, sharing their own thoughts on MrBeast’s charity-for-views brand of content.
Alongside fans defending their favourite creator, many said that MrBeast’s content can be exploitative for those involved. Others noted that his altruism is both publicised and monetised— often making millions of dollars in profit for his philanthropy while advertising his efforts for views.
“If he was doing this out of the goodness of his heart, he wouldn’t publicize it. The fact that he is clearly doing this for ‘content’ gives me the feeling that he is involved in some truly evil shit,” wrote @KaiserBeamz.
Alex Cranz, Managing Editor at The Verge, compared MrBeast to “an early 2010s Elon Musk” because he’s “a wealthy man who loves to market his altruism as entertainment to build himself more wealth.”
MrBeast posts a variety of vlogs giving back, but his most controversial are perhaps the ones in which he has people compete for large sums of money.
“Big ‘ruler watches the gladiators fight’ energy,” tweeted Cranz of these videos.
Tech journalist Steven Aquino said that as a blind person himself, the video rubbed him the wrong way.
“There’s a new video out from a *highly* prominent YouTuber on ‘curing’ blindness that really rubs me the wrong way. It’s literally a bunch of abled people effectively shouting that having a disability is bad and less than,” he tweeted. “This is your problem, abled friends: you keep conflating altruism with ableism and we get ‘let’s cure people’ like you’re Jesus.”
The backlash over MrBeast’s content isn’t new, but it does bring into question the ethical implications of the for-profit-philanthropy that has become increasingly popular on YouTube in recent years.
MrBeast has not addressed the backlash at the time of writing.