Last night, a tragic terror attack took place at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. According to CNN, at least 49 civilians have been killed and another 48 are injured.
To the surprise of many, PewDiePie (aka Felix Arvid Kjellberg), one of social media’s biggest names, has also been linked to the attack. One of the alleged gunmen responsible for the shooting broadcasted a livestream video praising PewDiePie, minutes before he gunned down dozens of civilians. The suspected gunman also shared a “manifesto” online, which exhibits white supremacist ideas.
The video shows the shooter blaring music in his car and driving up to the mosque where the terror attack took place. The video in question is now in police custody, and the authorities have requested the public not to share the distressing footage.
According to Forbes, the shooter is heard saying: “Let’s get this party started. Remember lads, subscribe to PewDiePie.”
The gunman livestreamed at least one of the shootings and then uploaded the video to multiple online platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The video ended up going viral.
As reported by Rolling Stone, “Facebook, for instance, reportedly failed to remove the livestream until 20 minutes after it posted, leaving ample time for people to capture the footage and share it on YouTube…”
In response to being referenced in the gunman’s video, Kjellberg said that he was “sickened” that the shooter mentioned his name in his livestream. PewDiePie Tweeted the following message to lend his support, and address the controversy:
“Just heard news of the devastating reports from New Zealand Christchurch. I feel absolutely sickened having my name uttered by this person. My heart and thoughts go out to the victims, families and everyone affected by this tragedy.”
The gunman’s mention of PewDiePie is particularly contentious as he has been accused of perpetuating racist views on his videos in the past.
In 2017, the media and public went after the YouTuber for posting neo-nazi and anti-semitic content. Kjellberg uploaded a video that featured a sign that read: “Death to all Jews”. As stated by Rolling Stone, he also uttered racial slurs during a livestream on Twitch that same year.
After this incident, Disney’s Maker Studios cut ties with the social media mogul in 2017. Disney’s Maker Studios commented on the matter, stating that: “although [he had] created a following by being provocative and irreverent, he clearly went too far in this case and the resulting videos are inappropriate.”
Who is PewDiePie?
As the most subscribed user on YouTube, PewDiePie has become one of social media’s biggest celebrities. The 29 year-old Swedish YouTuber currently has over 89 million subscribers on the platform, and over 20.7 billion views. He also brought home $15.5 million last year, making him one of the highest earning YouTubers.
Most of his video content involves video game narration, commentaries and comedic vlogs. According to Forbes, PewDiePie has charged up to $450,000 for sponsored videos.