The Biggest Scandals To Hit TikTok Stars

According to research reported by TechCrunch and done by Qustodio, in 2021, on a global scale, Generation Z spent an average of 91 minutes a day on TikTok. In the US alone, this same generation spent 99 minutes a day scrolling through their For You Page. Their views vary from dance challenges, "get ready with me" videos, POVs, and shorter-form vlogs.

A marketing consultant who belongs to Gen Z, Connor Blakley, told Forbes, "Generation Z understands that social media is like a highlight reel, and we choose to show what we feel best about. It's less about insecurity and more about being a self-confidence booster." Nevertheless, as much as they want to only showcase the good things, scandals, drama, and controversies have caught up with some of the most famous TikTok stars.

This phenomenon has been studied by several professionals in the psychology field. John Piacentini, who teaches in the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, told Los Angeles Times, "TikTok is a very effective platform to communicate with, but just be aware of what's being communicated." As entertaining as it may be to watch these influencers live their lives through minute-long videos, it is important to acknowledge when they have made mistakes or caused harm. Here are the biggest scandals to hit TikTok stars.

Tony Lopez was accused of sexual harassment

For those who may not be fully versed on the ins and outs of TikTok, The Hype House is a collective of creators who collaborate creating videos and live in the same house in California. As fun and appealing as this may seem to their viewers, there has been drama and tension surrounding this group of people multiple times. On one occasion, members of this group accused Tony Lopez of sexual harassment.

According to Teen Vogue, two 15-year-old and 16-year-old girls sued Lopez for trying to have sexual relations with them and asking for explicit photos. He replied to these accusations, "These allegations are not at all true. I never sent nudes to these women and didn't ask them to send me pictures either. And I certainly wouldn't have sex with someone who told me they were underage. This whole thing seems like a money grab to me. I'm going to fight it to the very end."

Even though he denied everything, he lost deals with different brands such as Bliss Spa who decided to stop sponsoring him. It was then that he took to Twitter (in a since-deleted tweet) and apologized. "I know these actions are not taken lightly and were extremely irresponsible of me. As a young man, I will hold myself responsible for this mistake, rather than run from it." People reported Lopez didn't have to face any criminal charges.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Zoe Laverne kissed a minor

Zoe Laverne, a TikTok star with over 22 million followers, became popular on the app for her lip-sync videos. Her social media platforms, mostly Instagram, nowadays focus on her journey as a mother and fiancée, but a few years back, she found herself in the midst of a terrible controversy.

In 2020, there was a video leaked that showed Laverne kissing a 13-year-old boy named Connor who used to be part of her fanbase. Immediately, the conversation began and people started pointing fingers at the TikTok star for grooming a minor when she was 19 years old. Insider reported a former best friend called Laverne's behavior pedophilia. During a livestream, she addressed the comments by saying, "I didn't groom Connor, I wouldn't do that. He's a kid and I'm aware of that. It just happened ... And friends do that, they catch feelings for each other. That's not a bad thing. Yes, the age is a bad thing. Yes, it's wrong. Yes, it's not good. We both realized that and we stopped."

Laverne's mom brushed away the comments by saying best friends sometimes kiss and that was all the two of them were doing. As serious as the allegations were, Laverne shortly returned to TikTok by making a video about her comeback after "being canceled for the 100th time."

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

The Stokes twins have misdemeanor charges

The Stokes twins, Alan and Alex, took over the content creation world in 2017 when they posted their first YouTube video. As of this writing, they have 17.8 million subscribers — only a little over half the followers they have on TikTok where they post challenges, pranks, and glimpses of their lives.

It is the pranks that pushed their fame on the social media platform, but also what caused legal issues in their personal lives. In 2020, the twins were charged with false imprisonment after a bank robbery prank. The DA involved in the case spoke to Deadline and said, "What they [the officers on the scene] found was some kind of twisted attempt to gain more popularity on the internet by unnecessarily putting members of the public and police officers in danger. These were not pranks. These are crimes that could have resulted in someone getting seriously injured or even killed."

Although they began by denying the allegations, Variety reported in April 2021 that the twins had pleaded guilty to the charges against them. At the sentencing, the twins were told by the judge to put an end to any content that imitates criminal activities. To this day, the Stokes continue to post pranks on TikTok but have stayed away from criminal behavior.

Bryce Hall and Blake Gray partied during the pandemic

The COVID pandemic meant lockdown, no parties, and social distancing. However, it seemed like the memo didn't get to a list of influencers who carried on with their lives as if coronavirus wasn't a thing. Among those names, Bryce Hall and Blake Gray pop up. The TikTok stars turned their houses into party central. Those who attended the parties posted videos that were later shared on Twitter, discussing how inappropriate this had been. The videos showed hundreds of these TikTok stars' friends in and out of the house without masks.

In August 2020, CNN reported both TikTokers had been charged for the parties they were throwing. The Los Angeles City Attorney pointed out how reckless their behavior had been given the amount of followers they had and the young people looking up to them. "Despite several warnings, this house has turned into a nightclub in the hills, hosting large gatherings in flagrant violation of our public health orders. The City has now disconnected utilities at this home to stop these parties that endanger our community," explained the Mayor.

The charges brought against them meant they could end up in jail for a year and paying fines of up to $2,000. However, in February 2021, E! News reported that both young men ended up pleading not guilty.

Josh Richards flashed his fans

Josh Richards has over 25 million followers on TikTok, and the truth is that most of them are minors. So it was no surprise when in April 2020 people began talking about him on social media for flashing an audience during a live stream. "You know what's disgusting?? Josh Richards showing his f***ing balls on instagram live while his whole fan base watching is probably 11-13 years old," tweeted an upset fan.

During a live stream, Richards pulled his pants and flashed the audience. It only took him a day to go on his Twitter and apologize for his behavior. "It was never my intention to have leaked what got shown but I made that mistake and understand the consequences. I have made a promise to myself and you guys that I won't let this social media world change who I am."

Although there were fans who continued to show his love and support, a number of them didn't accept the apology as enough for what had happened and replied to him, reminding him of the importance of making conscious choices when posting on social media. However, the flashing wasn't the only problem fans saw with the live stream. One particular Twitter account talked about his drinking in front of young fans as well.

Bella Poarch and her controversial tattoo

TikTok stars are always under scrutiny, and everything they say or do is analyzed by a large audience on different social media platforms. This is something they have unofficially agreed to when deciding to share their entire life through videos with the world. Bella Poarch, singer and social media creator, has over a whopping 92 million followers.

Poarch didn't escape controversy when fans expressed disappointment after the star got a rising sun flag tattoo. The rising sun flag is connected to Japan's military history, particularly before and during World War II when Japanese forces invaded Korea. According to the BBC, to many Asians, this flag represents what the swastika was for the Nazi movement.

Aware of her mistake, Poarch posted a video on TikTok to apologize to anyone she had offended with her tattoo. She wrote a statement in the comments section saying, "I will have the tattoo removed or do cover up. I did not know the history behind this tattoo and I will educate others about it." She also explained she added a heart to begin covering it and was due for a removal of the rest of the tattoo. The situation escalated and people began attacking Poarch and her culture, to which she answered on Twitter, "Y'all can attack me. I'm ok with that. But when y'all attack Philippines and make fun of them, that's when I lose my s**t."

Cash Baker made homophobic comments

Religion and sexual orientation are widely discussed on social media. The conversations range from content creators sharing their personal experiences to those who make damaging comments about religions other than their own and the LGBTQ+ community. Someone who caused chaos with his homophobic remarks was Cash Baker.

In one of his videos (which is no longer on TikTok) in 2020, Baker said, "Me being a Christian, can I support the LGBT community? No, I cannot. So am I behind the LGBT community? Do I promote it? Do I encourage it? Absolutely not. But guys, you gotta understand. Everybody gets that so confused with us saying that we hate LGBTQ people and all that. But guys, no, that is completely, completely wrong" (via Daily Dot). Of course, many fans and viewers made comments about how wrong his statement was and the damage he was causing.

Not long after the controversy began, he posted another video talking about the fact that his friends were advising him to stop preaching because he would get canceled and not make any money. "I've already lost thousands and thousands of followers. Brand deals probably won't want to work with me as much because I'm preaching the gospel and I'm too problematic." The backlash doesn't seem to have been too serious, as he continues to post on TikTok for over 18.2 million followers.

Ava Louise and her COVID challenge

It seems like the Coronavirus time was a crazy one for social media. People threw parties when they didn't have to, broke the law, and created challenges that put their and their followers' health at risk.

Ava Louise, who is no longer on TikTok, started a fire when she posted a video doing the "Coronavirus challenge." The video showed her licking a toilet seat, and was also shared through her Twitter account. Said tweet read, "Please RT this so people can know how to properly be sanitary on the airplane" (via Global News). Every post including the video on her social media accounts has been deleted, probably after the very upset comments it stirred. Meghan McCain, columnist for Daily Mail, was among the ones who called her out and tweeted, "Put her a** in jail!"

People reported the former TikTok star posted a video on her YouTube channel (the video is now gone) explaining she was only trolling the internet and the video wasn't actually real. She told Miami Herald, "It was a clean toilet seat on a sugar daddy's plane." However, her behavior wasn't the only upsetting thing. Her comments made people mad after she stated she wasn't happy COVID was getting more attention than her. As she declared to Dr. Phil, "[The older generation is] blowing this pandemic to crazy proportions, instilling fear in the nation."

Isabella Avila used slurs

Every TikToker has that one thing that gives them the fame they crave. For Isabella Avila, better known as OnlyJayus, it was their videos sharing facts about the human psychology and body. With now more than 18 million followers, many watched their videos, shared them, and commented on them. They had gained popularity and everything seemed to be working in their favor until screenshots of old text messages came to the surface.

In The Know reported racist and homophobic slurs had been used, upsetting fans and fellow content creators for the way in which they had spoken. Although many claimed it was okay for them to use anti-gay slurs as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, others pointed out this was still wrong. One Twitter user said in 2021, "The fact OnlyJayus refuses [to] apologize for saying 'fa***t' with ill intentions pisses me off. You didn't do it in an act [of] reclamation."

Avila posted a TikTok apology addressing the text messages and how wrong their behavior had been. "I'm so sorry to everyone, but especially to those in the Black community because only you guys can forgive me for this ... You guys deserve better. When I first saw the screenshots, I didn't even think that they were real because I forgot how hateful and how angry of a person I used to be ... The screenshots and the things I've said in my past are not a reflection of who I am today."

Benji Krol and Jorge Garay were accused of grooming

Jorge Garay and Benji Krol were at one point a famous TikTok couple that created content together. However, things change drastically when a 15-year-old boy accused them of grooming him. In 2020, IBT reported that the victim said, "They took advantage of my friendship, and exploited and coerced me, a minor, into doing what they wanted for sexual pleasure. They used their power as an influencer to manipulate me into doing what they wanted because our feelings were 'mutual,' 'I knew what I was doing,' and because 'I wanted it.' Looking back at all of this, it is very easy to be manipulated by someone older than you."

The couple broke up shortly after Krol's attempted death by suicide, and Garay released a statement apologizing and explaining he was always trying to do the best he could. "All actions I once took were wrong, and it would be unthinkable for me to do them now or ever again. I take full responsibility of my actions and I want the people affected to feel that their words are heard. I did not want to ignore this or invalidate the feelings of the person involved at any moment."

On his end, Kroll posted a half an hour YouTube video discussing the situation and apologizing for his wrongdoings. "I just wanted to be honest with the whole situation ... It's also something I could have never predicted happening ... because I never realized how irresponsible I was being."

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.