YouTube star PewDiePie has scrapped plans to donate $50,000 (£40,000) to an anti-hate group after a backlash from his followers.
On Tuesday, the Swedish influencer, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, celebrated reaching 100m subscribers on his YouTube channel with a video in which he pledged to donate a new sponsorship fee to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in a bid to atone for past accusations of antisemitism.
But Kjellberg’s fans took exception to his choice of charity, highlighting that the ADL publicly criticised him in 2017 for posting antisemitic videos and Nazi imagery, and urged Disney to cut ties with him.
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Disney went on to cancel their sponsorship of Kjellberg, causing ADL’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt to release a statement reading: “ADL commends Disney’s decision to sever ties with PewDiePie following his posting of videos on YouTube containing swastikas and other anti-Semitic content.”
“I made the mistake of picking a charity that I was advised to instead of picking a charity that I’m personally passionate about, which is 100 per cent my fault,” the Swedish vlogger said in a new video.
Days before, Kjellberg defended his pledge on Twitter, stating that: “Misrepresenting headlines of me has led me down a path of twists with MSM [mainstream media] for years now. Previously it hasn’t bothered me much. I know who I am. But, after the Christ Church travesty a few months ago, my own clash with MSM was manipulated as a tool for destruction.”
PewDiePie was named in the live video posted by by the New Zealand gunman who killed 51 people in a mosque. At the time, he acknowledged his “offensive” jokes and said he was “sickened” the alleged gunman was a fan of his work.
The non-governmental ADL aims to stop the defamation of Jewish people and “secure justice and fair treatment to all”.