YouTuber accused of “exploiting” homeless people for views in viral video

YouTuber accused of “exploiting” homeless people for views in viral video

YouTuber Tyler Oliveira is facing backlash for allegedly “exploiting” unhoused people in his video investigating homelessness in Seattle, Washington.

Tyler Oliveira is a YouTuber known for his videos investigating different topics like “endangered species across Africa” or “Mexico’s deadly Coca-Cola addiction” to the tune of millions of views per video.

However, one of his ‘investigations’ is sparking major backlash online — even from fellow creators, a few of whom have directly called out the YouTuber over his ‘journalistic’ practices.

In January 2024, Oliveira uploaded a video investigating the homeless population in Seattle, Washington, which he claimed had “banned police” due to the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone that was ultimately cleared out back in July 2020 after just three weeks of occupation by protestors.

In his video, Oliveira filmed an unhoused man defecating in public, recorded an unconscious man experiencing an overdose in the street without calling for help, and dubbed a supposed nonprofit organization providing substances to unhoused people as a “chaotic evil force.”

Oliveira has come under fire for the way he presented Seattle’s homeless crisis, with netizens accusing him of treating the situation like a “freak show” and “exploiting” unhoused people for views.

YouTube duo ‘Boy Boy,’ made up of influencer IDidAThing and comedian Aleksa Vulović, dissected Oliveira’s video in an upload of their own, where they accused him of “abusing” the unhoused people he filmed.

“Non-consensually filming someone at their lowest point and showing it to 7 million people is cruel, but constantly pushing the lie that this situation is the product of a city ‘banning police,’ and that these ‘zombies’ are actually choosing to be homeless, is uniquely evil,” they blasted in a post on Twitter/X.

Twitch streamer and political commentator Hasan also chimed in on the situation. “It’s just so awful,” he said of Oliveira’s video. “I don’t know how normal people would watch this sh*t and go like, ‘Yeah, this is great content.'”

Oliveira has since defended himself on X, where he got into a spat with Boy Boy over their coverage of his content.


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“I literally interview anyone and everyone that is willing to have a conversation,” he wrote. “Homeless or not, I give them the mic if they’d like to share anything.

“Someone overdosing in broad daylight on a public sidewalk is relevant information for the broader public trying to understand the human casualty that the opioid / homelessness crisis is having on America.”

YouTuber accused of “exploiting” homeless people for views in viral video

Tyler Oliveira interviewed unhoused people in Seattle, Washington – but critics aren’t happy with how he went about his investigation.

He went on to claim that he’s merely exercising his “First Amendment” rights, which guarantee Americans freedom of speech and protection of the press.

Thus far, Oliveira has yet to elaborate further on the backlash surrounding his content — but it’s clear many netizens aren’t a fan of this particular video.

According to data in a report from the Seattle Times, two key factors of homelessness in Seattle and across America are a “lack of affordable housing and poverty,” with Axios reporting that Seattle’s housing index is “more than double the national average.”

YouTuber accused of “exploiting” homeless people for views in viral video

Oliveira filmed homeless encampments in Seattle, Washington alongside local journalist Jonathan Choe.

While the homeless crisis is dire in Seattle, many viewers and fellow creators feel sticking cameras in unhoused people’s faces isn’t the proper way to ‘investigate’ the issue.

On the other hand, a similar investigation from Channel 5’s Andrew Callaghan has been widely praised, with his video chronicling San Francisco’s homeless population being called “important” journalism by six million viewers and counting.

This is far from the first time Oliveira has come under fire for his content. In 2020, the YouTuber sparked outrage for “wasting” 100,000 paper towels in a video where he orchestrated an experiment to test if they could soak up all the water from a swimming pool.

In 2023, he got into a feud with TikToker Brent Rivera after accusing him of “faking” his videos and “stealing everyone’s ideas,” eventually prompting security to get involved to de-escalate matters.

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