One of the world’s biggest YouTubers has reversed his decision to donate $50,000 to an American organisation that fights prejudice, principally against Jews.
Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, who is known on YouTube as PewDiePie, is a Swedish gamer based in the UK whose YouTube channel has over 100 million subscribers and 23 billion video views. He recently pledged to donate the $50,000, apparently to quell criticism over a series of antisemitic videos and statements he has made over the past two years, including appearances of Nazi imagery, Adolf Hitler and swastikas in his videos. Although Mr Kjellberg has taken down a number of the offending videos, some were viewed millions of times before removal.
In 2017, he paid two Indian men to film themselves unveiling a sign that read “Death to all Jews”, following which Disney’s Maker Studios, a network of YouTube celebrities, cut ties with Mr Kjellberg. He was also suspended from Twitter in 2016 after joking about having joining ISIS.
It seems that Mr Kjellberg reversed the pledge to donate $50,000 after pushback from his fans. In a video in which he appeared to be wearing a replica of a German iron cross, he reflected that “I made the mistake of picking a charity I was advised to instead of picking a charity that I’m personally passionate about, which is 100% my fault”, adding: “sorry for messing this up”.
Despite building a significant following — such that he was listed by Time as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2016 — Mr Kjellberg continues to behave after the fashion of an alt-right provocateur, and indeed the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website describes itself as “the world’s #1 PewDiePie fan site”.
When a media personality with 100 million followers, many of them children, who has a history of broadcasting and laughing at antisemitism, makes a special broadcast wearing clothing emblazoned with a symbol resembling an iron cross and apologising for proposing to make a donation to fight antisemitism, his message could not be clearer.
The platforms that host Mr Kjellberg and the fans who indulge him should reconsider their affiliation to his channel.