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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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YouTuber Agrees to Pay Families After One Girl Dies and Another Suffers Major Burns in “Copycat” Experiment

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  • One Chinese teen died and another Chinese girl suffered severe burns after they tried to replicate a DIY popcorn making experiment that resulted in the explosion of a two-pound bottle of condensed industrial alcohol.
  • Because she posted a similar video in March 2017, Chinese YouTuber Ms Yeah was then accused of inspiring the girls to replicate the experiment.
  • Ms Yeah denied inspiring the girls, saying they used different videos than her own, but she agreed to compensate both families involved, saying she would help the families “regardless of who was right and who was wrong.”

Ms Yeah’s Popcorn Experiment

Chinese YouTuber Zhou Xiaohui, better known as Ms Yeah, has agreed to compensate two families after they claimed their daughters attempted to copy her viral video, resulting in one dying and the other surviving with severe burns.

Ms Yeah, who boasts nearly 7.5 million followers on YouTube, uses everyday items found in the workplace to cook traditional Chinese dishes and other foods. 

The video in question—a feature on making popcorn—was originally posted in March 2017 and has since been deleted, but copies have circulated on YouTube. In addition to that video, Ms Yeah said she will delete any videos she thinks might potentially be dangerous. 

In the video, Ms Yeah can be seen cutting a Pepsi can and placing it onto a hot plate, which rests over what appears to be an alcohol burner. She then fills the can with popcorn kernels, salt, and butter and lights the burner with a match. 

An Experiment Gone Wrong

While the end result for Ms Yeah was a bowl of popcorn, the families of the two girls say things ended much differently, with several photos of burnt or destroyed cans showing part of the aftermath.

On Aug. 22, the girls were reportedly playing in at a home in the eastern Chinese city of Zaozhuang while their parents were at work. Around 3:30 p.m., the girls discovered the experiment on the Chinese version of TikTok and decided to replicate it. 

Their initial attempt reportedly failed, prompting on the girls to pour alcohol directly onto an open flame housed in a tin can, which then exploded. 

Source: The Sun
Source: Mothership
Source: Mothership

The spark then reportedly caused a two-pound bucket of nearby condensed industrial alcohol to also explode, leading to the severe injuries. 

The survivor—a 12-year-old girl identified as Xiaoyu—will need cosmetic surgery, according to her family. Also according to her father, she has accumulated high hospital bills and refuses to leave her home because of her burns. A picture that circulated on the Chinese social media site Weibo reportedly shows the girl in the hospital with severe burns and casts on her arms and legs. 

Source: BBC

Her friend—identified as 14-year-old Zhezhe—reportedly suffered burns to 96% of her body, later dying on Sep. 5.

Ms Yeah Compensates Families

Ms Yeah has denied the girls were attempting to replicate her video, in spite of paying compensation and the families’ claims. She claims the girls were using a different method than what was depicted in her video. Other videos showcasing alternative methods for DIY popcorn—similar to accounts given about the girls’ own experiment—do exist on YouTube, some with millions of views.

“I used only one tin can and an alcohol lamp, which is safer,” Ms Yeah said in a Sept. 10 Weibo post. “In [their video] we could clearly see that they used two cans and not a lamp.”

Ms Yeah also said her videos are not to be interpreted as instructional, and according to the BBC, she said she has included “Do not attempt” warnings on her videos since March 2017; however, more recent content of Ms Yeah using alcohol lamps to cook crab and make an espresso notably do not contain any such warnings in their videos. 

Ms Yeah’s cousin and representative said the creator would help the families “regardless of who was right and who was wrong.”

It is unknown to what extent Ms Yeah will compensate the families. 

Online Response

Ms Yeah has described learning of the events as “the darkest day of my life” and said she’s felt “immense pain” from the girls’ injuries, further apologizing to her followers and saying she “let everyone down.”

Despite this, she has had to respond to multiple accusations on social media that she is a “murderer.” In her apology post, Ms Yeah asked her followers not to accuse people of murder.

Ms Yeah’s cousin later told media she has been under “immense stress” in recent days and suspects she may be “sinking into depression.”

See what others are saying: (Sixth Tone) (South China Morning Post) (INSIDER)

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Instagram Restricts Posts Promoting Diet and Cosmetic Surgery Products

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  • Instagram is restricting users under the age of 18 from viewing ads promoting weight loss and cosmetic procedures. The platform is also removing posts that make miraculous claims about dieting.
  • Actress and body positivity activist Jameela Jamil celebrated the policy change.
  • Jamil has criticized celebrities like Kim Kardashian for promoting these types of products in the past, saying it has a negative impact on young followers. 

Instagram Changes Policy

Instagram has changed a community guideline policy to prevent its younger users from seeing content that promotes diet and weight-loss products.

Users who are known to the platform to be under the age of 18 will no longer be allowed to view posts for dieting products or cosmetic procedures that include a listed price or incentive to purchase. The site will also remove all posts that make a “miraculous” claim about weight loss and include a coupon code or other commercial elements. 

According to Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, this policy became effective when it was announced on Wednesday and will be applied on both Instagram and Facebook.

Promoting these kinds of products has become a major part of influencer culture on the social media site. Prominent celebrities like Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and Cardi B have all received backlash for advertising highly-criticized rapid-weight-loss remedies. 

Screenshot via Instagram @KimKardashian

Instagram’s Public Policy Manager, Emma Collins, spoke to the Evening Standard about how this policy change will affect these big names. 

“If [a Kardashian’s] Instagram post is pulled into the policy of promoting diet products or procedures for sale it will be removed,” she said. “The Kardashians are people we continue to have collaborative conversations with, they’ll be made aware of the change.”

Collins also released a statement addressing the larger reasons behind the change, saying Instagram wants their site to be a “positive place.”

“We want Instagram to be a positive place for everyone that uses it and this policy is part of our ongoing work to reduce the pressure that people can sometimes feel as a result of social media,” she said.

Some Twitter users have shared that they have already been blocked from old posts by Kim Kardashian due to the new age barrier. Instagram is also encouraging users to report content they feel violates the new policy, and says they will be adding new reporting tools specifically for this matter. 

Jameela Jamil Responds

The decision was applauded by many, including actress and body positivity activist Jameela Jamil. Jamil has led the social media charge against these weight-loss tactics by frequently calling out stars like the Kardashians for promoting them to their younger fans. Jamil has spilled the skinny tea on what some of the products might actually do to your body, including cause sicknesses like diarrhea.  She started the social media campaign “I Weigh” in 2018 to promote body positivity and inclusivity on Instagram. 

Jamil called Instagram’s new policy “huge news” in a post celebrating the matter.

“@i_weigh are changing the world together,” she wrote. “After a bunch of shouting, screaming, and petitioning… we have managed to get the attention of the people at the top, and they have heard us and want to protect us. And this is just the beginning of our efforts.” 

The Good Place star went on to say that she had been working with people at Instagram all year to accomplish this and praised them for the passion.

View this post on Instagram

THIS IS HUGE NEWS. @i_weigh are changing the world together. After a bunch of shouting, screaming, and petitioning… we have managed to get the attention of the people at the top, and they have heard us and want to protect us. And this is just the beginning of our efforts. As of now, if you’re under 18, you will no longer be exposed to any diet/detox products, and for all other ages; all fad products that have bogus, unrealistic claims will be taken down and easy to report. I’ve been working with Instagram all year towards this, who were amazing to deal with, and they expressed that they passionately care about creating a safer space for us all online. This happened so much faster than I expected and I’m so proud and happy and relieved. WELL DONE to the many people who have been working towards this huge change. This is a mass effort. This is an extraordinary win that is going to make a big difference. Influencers have to be more responsible. ❤️

A post shared by Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamilofficial) on

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

“This happened so much faster than I expected and I’m so proud and happy and relieved,” Jamil added. “WELL DONE to the many people who have been working towards this huge change. This is a mass effort. This is an extraordinary win that is going to make a big difference. Influencers have to be more responsible.”

On Twitter, Jamil also implied that with this victory in hand, she is going to continue fighting. 

See what others are saying: (Evening Standard) (The Guardian) (The Verge)

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YouTube Will No Longer Count Ad Views for 24-Hour Music Records

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  • YouTube said it will no longer count views from paid advertising in its calculations for YouTube Music charts and 24-hour debut records. 
  • The move came after YouTube did not congratulate Indian rapper Badshah for seemingly breaking the single-day viewing record.
  • Badshah admitted to paying for promotional ads and several media reports found that the practice was actually commonly used in the music industry to inflate views.
  • Critics argued that the strategy created financial hurdles for new artists and raised questions about real popularity. 

Ad Views No Longer Count 

YouTube announced a new policy Friday that changes the way the platform counts views from purchased ads in its one-day record reports, a practice that has faced massive criticism over the last few months

“In an effort to provide more transparency to the industry and align with the policies of official charting companies such as Billboard and Nielsen, we are no longer counting paid advertising views on YouTube in the YouTube Music Charts calculation,” the company said in a blog post. 

“Artists will now be ranked based on view counts from organic plays,” it continued.  

The change extends only to YouTube’s music charts and the reporting of 24-hour views. Advertising money can still be put towards increasing views, and the public view counter will still reflect views that were paid for.

Why? 

Before the changes, many artists and record labels would pay to run songs as YouTube ads, which boosted viewership and increased the artist’s odds of topping the YouTube Music charts. 

However, YouTube executives might have decided to rethink how it records single-day views after it faced backlash over its former policy earlier this year. 

YouTube faced intense scrutiny in July when Indian rapper Badshah racked up 75 million views in 24 hours on his music video for the song “Paagal.” The numbers seemingly broke the single-day viewing record set by K-pop superstars BTS in April, but YouTube did not acknowledge the achievement.

YouTube has a history of honoring artists for setting viewing records. It congratulated musicians like BTS, Blackpink, Taylor Swift, and Ariana Grande when they set records on the site, so naturally, many were confused by the company’s silence. 

Badshah made no secret that his team spent heavily on promotional ads, which he admitted to on Instagram. He even suggested YouTube’s lack of praise presented a double standard between the way the site treats mainstream global superstars like Swift and Grande, and artists who aren’t as popular in the West. 

As of now, it’s unclear how many paid-ad views make up the total views for Badshah’s video, which currently sits at over 161 million. YouTube’s spokesperson told Forbes that the video-sharing platform doesn’t “comment on specific view sources for videos.”

“We have always taken into account a number of factors, including the volume of paid advertising views on YouTube,” they added. “Based on our long-time criteria, Badshah did not qualify for our 24 hour debut records list.”

However, for many people, the interesting issue became the focus on the ad purchasing policy itself. The practice created doubts about the real popularity of the videos and brought new attention to industry marketing tactics. It also sparked conversations about how this tactic changes the landscape for new talent and creates a financial barrier for growth. 

A report from Rolling Stone said that the practice was common in the Latin Music industry, reporting that companies like Sony Latin and Universal Latin have been known to shell out between $20,000 to $60,000 in the first 24 hours. In more extreme cases, the companies would spend as much as $100,000, which could result in more than 12 million additional views.

“There is definitely money being spent on views,” Tomas Cookman, founder and CEO of the independent Latin label Nacional told Rolling Stone.Is it fair to pay to have all those perceived views on a video? Probably not. But any time there’s a system, there’s going to be some manipulation of that system. And whoever tells you there isn’t is probably doing it.”  

The report also said the ad strategy was likely more utilized outside of the U.S. because of the cost difference. One Latin label employee estimated that $1,000 on ads might bring in 250,000 to 500,000 views from countries in Latin and South America, meanwhile, the cost per view in the U.S would be five to ten times as much. The cheapest views reportedly came from countries like Turkey, the Philippines, and India. 

YouTube’s changes won’t necessarily mean fewer video ads since ads still allow for greater exposure. However, it could push the industry to think critically about how to place those ads for long-term success, rather than just spam users with them for the first 24 hours to inflate views and create a false sense of popularity.

See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Bloomberg) (The Verge)


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