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PewDiePie’s $50K ADL Donation Prompts Mixed Reactions

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  • PewDiePie announced Tuesday that he was donating $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, a group that fights anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hate. 
  • However, some of his fans associate the group with YouTube’s initiative to remove content involving hate speech. Many also pointed out that the ADL was supportive of Disney’s choice to cut ties with PewDiePie in 2017.
  • This led fans to believe that PewDiePie was being blackmailed into making this donation.
  • PewDiePie eventually addressed these theories by saying he did this to show he was moving on from his past.

PewDiePie Donates to ADL

YouTuber PewDiePie has explained why he chose to donate to the Anti-Defamation League after his fans spread conspiracy theories suggesting he was blackmailed into doing so.

Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, posted a video on Tuesday in celebration of reaching 100 million YouTube subscribers, which makes him the most followed solo-creator on the platform. In the video, he reminisced on his online journey, unboxed his award from YouTube, and announced a donation to the ADL.

“As an additional celebration, I’m donating $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, which is an organization that fights bigotry and prejudice in all its forms,” Kjellberg said.

Conspiracy Theories Spread

The ADL was founded in 1913 with the goal of fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of hate. Many of Kjellberg’s fans, however, associate the group with YouTube’s initiative to remove content involving hate speech, as the platform has cited it as one of the many organizations it was working with the fight extremism. His fans believe the content removal to be a form of censorship.

Other fans also cited that the ADL was supportive of Disney’s decision to cut ties with Kjellberg back in 2017. Because of this, many fans were surprised that Kjellberg donated to the group. 

“Wow, did the king of youtube just cave to those who wish to destroy him?” asked one user in the comments. 

Other users believed that Kjellberg was blackmailed into giving the donation. Many commented messages like “Anti-Defamation League blackmailing PewDiePie,” using emojis in place of letters because they believed comments directly mentioning the ADL were being taken down. 

Screenshots from PewDiePie’s comment section.

Users on the PewDiePie subreddit believed comments about the ADL donation were being taken down on that platform as well. Many even claimed the ADL was responsible for this. 

Users Don’t Believe Conspiracy Theories

These, however, were just fan-based conspiracy theories. Other users online did not believe them and thought the donation meant something else to Kjellberg.

Many saw it has his way of responding to recent tragedies, like the shooting in Christchurch, where the alleged attacker said “Subscribe to PewDiePie” before committing the act. YouTuber Roberto Blake said it was Kjellberg’s “way of setting the record straight.”

Others saw the donation as a way for him to “rehabilitate his image.”

Some were very critical of the fact that fans jumped so quickly to conspiracy theories, and even accused them of hypocrisy. 

Others sent messages to Kjellberg to thank him for making a donation, believing it was a sign of maturity. 

PewDiePie Responds

These varied reactions and conspiracy theories did not go unnoticed. Kjellberg’s editor, Sive Morten, tweeted a meme about the theories and asked followers to “seriously, stop lol.”

Kjellberg addressed the situation himself on Twitter Wednesday morning. He claimed that mainstream media coverage of him did not bother him in the past, but in recent months, this has changed.

“After the Christ Church travesty a few months ago, my own clash with MSM was manipulated as a tool for destruction,” he wrote. “I’m not okay with this situation any longer and I’ve felt responsibility to make changes.”

Making a donation to ADL doesn’t make sense to everyone, especially since they’ve outright spoken against me,” he added. “I wanted to show publicly that I can move past it and move on.” 

While some fans still responded with criticism and skepticism to his statement, others were pleased Kjellberg wanted to take this step.

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Dexerto) (Reclaim the Net)

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Schools Across the U.S. Cancel Classes Friday Over Unverified TikTok Threat

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Officials in multiple states said they haven’t found any credible threats but are taking additional precautions out of an abundance of safety.


School Cancelled

Schools in no fewer than 10 states either canceled classes or increased their police presence on Friday after a series of TikToks warned of imminent shooting and bombs threats.

Despite that, officials said they found little evidence to suggest the threats are credible. It’s possible no real threat was actually ever made as it’s unclear if the supposed threats originated on TikTok, another social media platform, or elsewhere. 

“We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we’re working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok,” TikTok’s Communications team tweeted Thursday afternoon. 

Still, given the uptick of school shootings in the U.S. in recent years, many school districts across the country decided to respond to the rumors. According to The Verge, some districts in California, Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas shut down Friday. 

“Based on law enforcement interviews, Little Falls Community Schools was specifically identified in a TikTok post related to this threat,” one school district in Minnesota said in a letter Thursday. “In conversations with local law enforcement, the origins of this threat remain unknown. Therefore, school throughout the district is canceled tomorrow, Friday, December 17.”

In Gilroy, California, one high school that closed its doors Friday said it would reschedule final exams that were expected to take place the same day to January.

According to the Associated Press, several other districts in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania stationed more police officers at their schools Friday.

Viral Misinformation or Legitimate Warnings?

As The Verge notes, “The reports of threats on TikTok may be self-perpetuating.”

For example, many of the videos online may have been created in response to initial warnings as more people hopped onto the trend. Amid school cancellations, videos have continued to sprout up — many awash with both rumors and factual information.

 “I’m scared off my ass, what do I do???”  one TikTok user said in a now-deleted video, according to People. 

“The post is vague and not directed at a specific school, and is circulating around school districts across the country,” Chicago Public Schools said in a letter, though it did not identify any specific post. “Please do not re-share any suspicious or concerning posts on social media.”

According to Dr. Amy Klinger, the director of programs for the nonprofit Educator’s School Safety Network, “This is not 2021 phenomenon.”

Instead, she told The Today Show that her network has been tracking school shooting threats since 2013, and she noted that in recent years, they’ve become more prominent on social media. 

“It’s not just somebody in a classroom of 15 people hearing someone make a threat,” she said. “It’s 15,000 people on social media, because it gets passed around and it becomes larger and larger and larger.”

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Associated Press) (People)

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Jake Paul Says He “Can’t Get Cancelled” as a Boxer

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The controversial YouTuber opened up about what it has been like to go from online fame to professional boxing.


The New Yorker Profiles Jake Paul

YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul talked about his career switch, reputation, and cancel culture in a profile published Monday in The New Yorker. 

While Paul rose to fame as the Internet’s troublemaker, he now spends most of his time in the ring. He told the outlet that one difference between YouTube and boxing is that his often controversial reputation lends better to his new career. 

“One thing that is great about being a fighter is, like, you can’t get cancelled,” Paul said. The profile noted that the sport often rewards and even encourages some degree of bad behavior.

“I’m not a saint,” Paul later continued. “I’m also not a bad guy, but I can very easily play the role.”

Paul also said the other difference between his time online and his time in boxing is the level of work. While he says he trains hard, he confessed that there was something more challenging about making regular YouTube content. 

“Being an influencer was almost harder than being a boxer,” he told The New Yorker. “You wake up in the morning and you’re, like, Damn, I have to create fifteen minutes of amazing content, and I have twelve hours of sunlight.”

Jake Paul Vs. Tommy Fury

The New Yorker profile came just after it was announced over the weekend Paul will be fighting boxer Tommy Fury in an 8-round cruiserweight fight on Showtime in December. 

“It’s time to kiss ur last name and ur family’s boxing legacy goodbye,” Paul tweeted. “DEC 18th I’m changing this wankers name to Tommy Fumbles and celebrating with Tom Brady.”

Both Paul and Fury are undefeated, according to ESPN. Like Paul, Fury has found fame outside of the sport. He has become a reality TV star in the U.K. after appearing on the hit show “Love Island.”

See what others are saying: (The New Yorker) (Dexerto) (ESPN)

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Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos

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The hack appears to be a form of trolling, though it’s possible that the infiltrators were able to uncover a security flaw while reviewing Twitch’s newly-leaked source code.


Bezos Prank

Hackers targeted Twitch for a second time this week, but rather than leaking sensitive information, the infiltrators chose to deface the platform on Friday by swapping multiple background images with a photo of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. 

According to those who saw the replaced images firsthand, the hack appears to have mostly — and possibly only — affected game directory headers. Though the incident appears to be nothing more than a surface-level prank, as Amazon owns Twitch, it could potentially signal greater security flaws. 

For example, it’s possible the hackers could have used leaked internal security data from earlier this week to discover a network vulnerability and sneak into the platform. 

The latest jab at the platforms came after Twitch assured its users it has seen “no indication” that their login credentials were stolen during the first hack. Still, concerns have remained regarding the potential for others to now spot cracks in Twitch’s security systems.

It’s also possible the Bezos hack resulted from what’s known as “cache poisoning,” which, in this case, would refer to a more limited form of hacking that allowed the infiltrators to manipulate similar images all at once. If true, the hackers likely would not have been able to access Twitch’s back end. 

The photo changes only lasted several hours before being returned to their previous conditions. 

First Twitch Hack 

Despite suspicions and concerns, it’s unclear whether the Bezos hack is related to the major leak of Twitch’s internal data that was posted to 4chan on Wednesday.

That leak exposed Twitch’s full source code — including its security tools — as well as data on how much Twitch has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019. 

It also revealed Amazon’s at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library, codenamed Vapor, which would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.

Even though Twitch has said its login credentials appear to be secure, it announced Thursday that it has reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Users are still being urged to change their passwords and update or implement two-factor authentication if they haven’t already. 

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Forbes) (CNET)

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