- PewDiePie has decided not to gift $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, a group devoted to fighting anti-Semitism and hate, after his fans spread conspiracy theories about his previous plans to donate.
- Fans online believed he was blackmailed into writing a check to the group, as they associate it with YouTube’s initiative to take town hate speech content.
- After seeing the online backlash, PewDiePie said he chose the organization because he was advised to, and will instead donate the money to a group he feels excited about.
PewDiePie Calls Donation a “Mistake”
One day after pledging $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, a group devoted to fighting against anti-Semitism and bigotry, PewDiePie is taking back the offer.
Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, the most popular solo YouTube creator, uploaded a video to his channel on Thursday announcing his decision. When Kjellberg first said he would be donating to the ADL in a video celebrating 100 million subscribers, he was met with mixed reactions from his fans.
“I made the mistake of picking a charity that I was advised, instead of picking a charity that I’m personally passionate about,” Kjellberg said in the video. “Which is 100 percent my fault. Usually, when I pick a charity I take my time, I find a charity that I’m really excited about and actually passionate to donate to.”
The ADL’s Reputation Among Fans
The ADL’s mission is to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Its site also says it fights threats to democracy, including cyberhate, bullying, and biases in schools and in the criminal justice system, among other issues.
Many of Kjellberg’s fans and other YouTube users, however, attribute the ADL to content removal on the platform. YouTube has worked with the group on its initiative to take down content involving hate speech and online extremism. Some of these fans see it as censorship.
The ADL also applauded Disney for ending its relationship with Kjellberg in 2017 after the YouTuber uploaded content with anti-Semitic imagery. Kjellberg apologized for his video and took the content in question down.
Still, fans did not understand why he would make a donation to them after this incident. Many spread conspiracy theories on Twitter that he was being blackmailed into making the donation.
PewDiePie Seeks to Address Situations like Christchurch
At the time, Kjellberg said he “wanted to show publicly that I can move past it and move on.” In a statement on Twitter, he also added he wanted to distance himself from events like the shooting in Christchurch, where the alleged gunman said his name before killing 51 people and injuring 49 more. His statement has since been deleted, but he elaborated on this idea in Thursday’s video.
“To be fair, I saw it as an opportunity to put an end to these alt-right claims that have been thrown against me. It wasn’t to try to clear my name or save grace, if it was I would have done it years ago,” Kjellberg said.
“But after the Christchurch tragedy, I felt a responsibility to do something about it because it’s no longer just about me, it affected other people in a way and I’m not okay with that.”
He added that he has struggled with learning how to address this situation, and ultimately decided this was not the answer. He later said that he saw information surface about the group that did not “fit at all.” Instead, he will donate to a different charity.
“It really doesn’t feel genuine for me to proceed with the donation at this point and I, instead, I actually wanted to take my time, keep the intent that I had, but just doing it with the right charity and doing it properly,” he said.
The ADL gave a statement to Fox News on Thursday about the incident, saying they only knew as much as the public did.
“ADL learned about the potential donation from Felix Kjellberg when everyone else did: when he made the announcement on his channel earlier this week,” the statement read. “We have not received any communication from him beyond his public posts.”
Schools Across the U.S. Cancel Classes Friday Over Unverified TikTok Threat
Officials in multiple states said they haven’t found any credible threats but are taking additional precautions out of an abundance of safety.
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.”
Jake Paul Says He “Can’t Get Cancelled” as a Boxer
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)
Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos
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.
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.