PewDiePie, YouTube’s biggest star, played up a fake news story about getting “unverified” by Twitter because he supposedly joined Islamic terrorist group ISIS to do what he does best — produce short-form content for his millions of fans.
Twitter, or its automated terrorism-filtering algorithms, apparently didn’t understand the joke: The YouTube gamer and comedian, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, was briefly suspended Wednesday from the social service, hours after he tweeted facetiously that he had been unverified on the social service because he had joined ISIS. His Twitter account was restored after less than an hour.
In a video posted Wednesday, PewDiePie explained the sequence of events: He said he unverified his Twitter account Tuesday, in a protest over the company’s “annoying” verification process, and inserted a globe icon instead of the blue check-mark because it’s “way f—ing cooler.” According to Kjellberg, his clearly absurd comment about joining ISIS came after an obviously fake tweet, which appeared to be from Sky News, that said he was unverified on Twitter “due to suspected relations with ISIS.”
“I’m fairly certain social media is making us all retarded,” Kjellberg says in the video, noting that some news outlets picked up his ISIS tweet at face value. About three hours after it posted, the video had been viewed more than 460,000 times.
A Twitter rep declined to comment, saying, “We don’t comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.” For Twitter, ISIS is no laughing matter: The company has been hit with lawsuits alleging that it provides a platform for terrorists to spew propaganda and earlier this month said it had suspended 235,000 terrorism-related accounts in the past six months.
The production company run by Kjellberg, who has more than 47 million YouTube subscribers and 8.1 million on Twitter, earned an operating profit of $8.1 million in 2015, according to a regulatory filing.
Watch Kjellberg’s video about the Twitter situation: