Google’s YouTube has canceled the second season of PewDiePie’s reality show and pulled his channel from its premium advertising program after the Swedish-born vlogger’s prank involving an anti-Semitic slogan gained widespread notice.
The announcement from YouTube came just hours after Disney’s Maker Studios said it was terminating its relationship with PewDiePie, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal, over the same videos.
Last month PewDiePie, YouTube’s most-subscribed channel with more than 53 million followers, posted several videos detailing a stunt in which he paid two shirtless Indian men to make a video holding up a sign that said “Death to All Jews.” He also paid a guy dressed as Jesus Christ to say, “Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong.”
PewDiePie, whose actual name is Felix Kjellberg, has insisted that his point was to critique of the absurdity of an internet service (in this case, he used Tel Aviv-based Fiverr) that enables someone to say or do something so outrageous for just $5. More than a month later, Maker and YouTube now have decided that he was out of bounds.
In a statement early Tuesday, a YouTube spokesperson said, “We’ve decided to cancel the release of ‘Scare PewDiePie’ season 2 and we’re removing the PewDiePie channel from Google Preferred.” Google Preferred is the internet giant’s advertising program for selling popular “brand-safe content” on YouTube.
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YouTube had not announced a premiere date for the second installment of “Scare PewDiePie,” produced by Maker and Skybound Entertainment (of “The Walking Dead” fame), on the YouTube Red subscription service. It announced the renewal of the show last June. “Scare PewDiePie,” in which Kjellberg encounters terrifying situations inspired by his favorite video games, was among the first original series launched a year ago on YouTube Red.
The 10 episodes of the first season of “Scare PewDiePie” remain available on YouTube Red, which costs $10 per month.
PewDiePie’s channel is now no longer part of Google Preferred. According to YouTube, it had previously pulled ads from the PewDiePie videos in question because they violated the service’s advertiser policies
Several of Kjellberg’s videos about the “Death to All Jews” stunt have been removed from his channel, although his original Jan. 11 video remains available (link here). [UPDATE: The video as of Feb. 16 is listed as private.] A YouTube rep said it did not pull down any of the channel’s videos, so PewDiePie or perhaps his team at Maker removed them. The videos display an error message that says, “The uploader has not made this video available.”
According to YouTube’s guidelines, if content is intended to be humorous or satirical, it may remain online, “even if offensive or in poor taste.” However, “if the uploader’s intent is to incite violence or hatred, it will be removed.”
PewDiePie has made millions from his edgy, profanity-laced content, often geared around video games. He’s engaged in provocative performance-art gags, including his threat to delete the PewDiePie channel once it hit 50 million subscribers — which he ultimately revealed as an attention-seeking stunt. PewDiePie also has reveled in tweeting fake news about himself, and his Twitter account was briefly suspended last August after he joked that he had joined the Islamic terrorist group ISIS.
Pictured above: Felix Kjellberg in “Scare PewDiePie” season one.