While hundreds of creators battle YouTube over its de-monetization controversy, the top star on the site is picking a fight with trolls on another platform: Twitter.
Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, unverified himself on Twitter recently because he found the verification system ridiculous. Almost immediately, he became the target of a popular Twitter hoax claiming that he was unverified for joining ISIS. Here’s the original tweet:
The tweet, which came from a fake account posing as UK news source Sky News (note the added “i” in “Neiws”), was retweeted over 12,000 times — including a retweet from PewDiePie himself.
Finding the situation ridiculous, PewDiePie tweeted the following joke:
He went on to explain the whole firestorm in a six-and-a-half minute YouTube video that blew up — even by PewDiePie’s standards. Here’s the video:
After the video was published, Twitter briefly suspended PewDiePie’s account due to the ISIS tweet. (It was quickly restored.) But between unverifying himself, getting his account suspended, becoming the target of a hoax, and joking about ISIS, PewDiePie started hemorrhaging Twitter followers.
PewDiePie noticed and tweeted about it:
Before the controversy broke, he had over 8.6 million Twitter followers. As of this writing, he’s down over 5 million — and dropping fast.
Not helping are the additional hoaxes targeting PewDiePie that have arisen since the ISIS hoax caught on. PewDiePie retweeted two of them:
Whether he’s down followers because of people believing the hoaxes, because removing his verification status makes Twitter bots auto-unfollow him, because he tweeted #deletepewdiepie (perhaps encouraging his fans to unfollow him as a protest against Twitter’s verification system), or because of some combination of the above or other factors remains to be seen. At 47 million subscribers and growing, however, his YouTube channel seems to be doing fine.
What do you think? Was PewDiePie right to challenge Twitter’s verification system, or is joking about ISIS too far? Let us know in the comments below or @WhatsTrending on Twitter!