PewDiePie goes on the record

Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg is the world's most popular streamer, a goofy gamer whose reactionary tendencies were relentlessly encouraged by YouTube and its engagement machinery. Now he faces the consequences, rich but frozen out of mainstream media and invoked half-ironically by alt-right spree killers. Kevin Roose interviewed Pewds for the New York Times, the first interview he's agreed to in years. What Does PewDiePie Really Believe?

The platform’s algorithms promoted engaging videos, with little regard for what made them engaging, and showered ad revenue on the most successful channels. And as all kinds of boundary-pushers raced to fill this void, it became harder to tell who had an actual ideology and who was just feeding the machines what they wanted. ... Kjellberg attributes this period to a combination of immaturity, boredom and YouTube’s platform incentives — which encouraged creators to increase their watch time by doing outrageous things. He says that he grew sick of playing video games and that his channel’s growth had plateaued, which gave him the urge to let loose. “Looking back, it was a bubble waiting to burst — this bubble of, how far can we push this?” Kjellberg told me. “I think YouTube at that time was at a place where no one really knew where the limit was.”

It's a good profile, especially its succinct explanation of YouTube's inner party of popular channels, influencers and streamers.

In Roose's portrayal, PewDiePie comes off as having been too stupid to understand what he does beyond its transgressive profitability. Read the rest

PewDiePie rescinds donation to Jewish group after fan outrage

The Verge reports that top YouTuber Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg is rescinding a $50,000 pledge to the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish group that opposes antisemitism and supports Israel. The donation, made in the wake of Kjellberg's giggling use of antisemitic imagery and racial slurs on his game streams, did not go down well with his followers.

I made the mistake of picking a charity that I was advised to instead of picking a charity that I’m personally passionate about,” Kjellberg said in the video. “Which is 100 percent my fault.”

Kjellberg previously addressed the criticism against his donation on Twitter, acknowledging that “making a donation to the ADL doesn’t make sense to everyone, especially since they’ve outright spoken against me.” A spokesperson for the ADL told The Verge at the time that they learned about the “potential donation when everyone else did: when he made the announcement on his channel yesterday.”

Regarding people who say bigoted things as a "joke", Ken White invented the Rule of Goats: "even if you say you're only fucking goats ironically, you're still a goatfucker."

To which I now add a corollary: "And the goats are now your fans." Read the rest

PewDiePie fan unleashes ransomware that encrypts hard drives until he gets 100M subscribers

YouTuber PewDiePie has more subscribers than anyone else on the network, and some of his rabid fans have released at least two ransomware strains that encrypt hard drives and display a notice that informs victims that a decryption key will be made available only when PewDiePie's account gets 100 million subscribers. One of the ransomware strains also warned victims that if, at any time, the Indian Bollywood channel T-Series gets more subscribers than PewDiePie, the decryption key will not be released.

From ZD Net:

Its author eventually realized the world of trouble he'd get into if any of those victims filed complaints with authorities, and released the ransomware's source code on GitHub, along with a command-line-based decryption tool.

Yesterday, the team at Emsisoft released their own decrypter app based on these two tools, meaning victims can recover files without having to wait months until PewDiePie reached 100 million subscribers.

Both ransomware strains show the level of idiocy the competition for YouTube's top spot has reached. While T-Series fans have remained mostly quiet most of this time, a portion of PewDiePie's fans appears to have lost their minds and engaged in media stunts bordering on criminal behavior.

They've defaced sites, taken over printers, and hijacked thousands of Chromecasts and smart TVs to spew out messages of support and the now-classical "subscribe to PewDiePie."

Read the rest

Gunman kills 49 in New Zealand mosque shootings

A white man in his 20s was taken into custody after killing 49 and wounding dozens more at two Christchurch mosques, reports the BBC. Authorities described him as an "extremist right-wing terrorist"; he live-streamed one of the attacks on the internet.

The attack, which came around the time people were attending the mosques for Friday prayers, was the deadliest in the nation's history.

A gunman live-streamed footage of his rampage to Facebook, filmed with a head-mounted camera. The footage showed him firing indiscriminately at men, women and children from close range inside the Al-Noor mosque.

Police called on the public not to share the "extremely distressing" footage online. Facebook said it had removed the gunman's Facebook and Instagram accounts and was working to remove any copies of the footage.

He's been named by some media as Brent or Brenton Tarrant. A 74-page anti-immigration manifesto posted online and attributed to the killer rants about "white genocide".

The 74-page document, called The Great Replacement, consists of a rant about white genocide and lists various aims, including the creation of “an atmosphere of fear” against Muslims.

The document, which suggests an obsession with violent uprisings against Islam, claims that the suspect had “brief contact” with the Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik and that Breivik gave a “blessing” for the attack. ... In a question-and-answer section of the manifesto, the author claims he was not seeking fame and was actually a “private and mostly introverted person”.

He describes himself as an ethnonationalist and a fascist.

Read the rest

Internet mostly fake now

When bots finally accounted for half the traffic on the internet, Media Experts speculated that algorithms would start identifying bots as a better advertising target than humans. Max Read points out that fear of "Inversion" is now quaint. Now everything is so fake online that no-one trusts numbers at all.

In the future, when I look back from the high-tech gamer jail in which President PewDiePie will have imprisoned me, I will remember 2018 as the year the internet passed the Inversion, not in some strict numerical sense, since bots already outnumber humans online more years than not, but in the perceptual sense. Everything that once seemed definitively and unquestionably real now seems slightly fake; everything that once seemed slightly fake now has the power and presence of the real. The “fakeness” of the post-Inversion internet is less a calculable falsehood and more a particular quality of experience — the uncanny sense that what you encounter online is not “real” but is also undeniably not “fake,” and indeed may be both at once, or in succession, as you turn it over in your head.

Read the rest

YouTube is cutting its ties with Logan Paul

More than a week after Logan Paul made an obnoxious, racist video in Tokyo and another video showing the body of a man who commited suicide in a forest in Japan, YouTube has kicked the 22-year-old millionaire out of its prefered ad network and canceled plans to make movies and shows with him.

From Kotaku:

Those steps have now been disclosed. First up, Paul has lost his Google Preferred ad deal, a lucrative pipeline that “offers brand advertisers access to the most popular YouTube channels.”

An upcoming YouTube Red movie project that Paul was due to star in, The Thinning: New World Order, has been put on hold. He has also been cut from Foursome, a YouTube Red comedy series.

From Polygon:

On Jan. 9, more than a week after Paul uploaded the video, YouTube released a statement condemning it, writing that it was looking into “further consequences” for Paul. The video technically broke YouTube’s community guidelines, which prohibit the use of graphic content and violent imagery. YouTube confirmed it issued a strike to his channel.

Paul’s punishment is similar to what happened to PewDiePie in February 2017. Following backlash over a video that featured anti-Semitic content, YouTube canceled the second season of Scared PewDiePie, his YouTube Red series. Since the Paul controversy, PewDiePie has repeatedly said that if Paul remains unpunished, PewDiePie should be allowed to release the sophomore season of his show, which he claims is already finished.

Here's Logan Paul's father defending his son's "mistake." The rotten apple doesn't fall from the tree. Read the rest

Gamer star PewDiePie canned by Disney and YouTube after anti-semitic postings

Gamer star PewDiePie was set for the big-time: 53m subscribers to his YouTube gamering channel and a hot deal with Disney to take his clean-cut mug to mass culture stardom. But then he started posting about the Jews.

[Felix] Kjellberg, a 27-year-old Swede whose YouTube antics secured him multimillion-dollar deals with YouTube and Disney, posted a Jan. 11 video that included two men laughing as they held a banner that read “Death to all Jews." He made a total of nine other videos that made anti-Semitic comments or used Nazi imagery, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the news.

Disney, which has owned Maker Studios since 2014, said it was severing ties with him.

YouTube also cancelled his reality show Scare PewDiePie and removed him from its premium line-up of ad-supported channels. Excuses were immediately forthcoming.

"I was trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online," he wrote, continuing, "I think it's important to say something and I want to make one thing clear: I am in no way supporting any kind of hateful attitudes."

Here's the sign he paid a couple of Sri Lankans to hold up:

That giggling sociopathic edgyness! The veil of irony spread over it! Imagine that you just got your big family-entertainment break from Disney and the thought that hits you is "right, now to dial that up a notch! Who can I hire to hold up signs saying DEATH TO ALL JEWS?" Read the rest

Offworld Monday roundup: Nostalgia, magical girls and cybersex

The Offworld staff had a lot to say about nostalgia last week, particularly around the announcement that a remake of the fan-favorite 1997 game Final Fantasy VII is on the way.