Pewdiepie Rescinds $70,000 Pledge To Jewish Charity After Fans Spread Conspiracy Theories

After Felix “Pewdiepie” Kjellberg pledged to make a plush donation of over $70,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, an advocacy group founded to combat anti-Semitism, hundreds of his fans went into full conspiracy theory mode, questioning whether he had been blackmailed into doing so. Kjellberg, who has been subject to controversy in the past for making anti-Semitic jokes, put the conspiracies to rest in a tweet yesterday. Today, however, he reversed his decision, releasing a YouTube video in which he rescinded his pledge to donate to the ADL.

Kjellberg’s video earlier this week had begun by describing his sponsorship with Honey. Then, he announced his planned donation to the ADL. In 2017, the ADL’s CEO had commended Disney for dropping their partnership with Kjellberg after his “postings of videos on YouTube containing swastikas and other anti-Semitic content” and “wide dissemination of hate speech.” Kjellberg, in his words, had “finally come to terms with the responsibility I have as a creator,” and to many, his donation to the ADL seemed like a way for him to finally put to rest the past allegations of anti-Semitism.

In today’s video, Kjellberg explained his decision not to donate after all. “When we were planning the collaboration, we thought it would be nice to donate to a charity as a way to celebrate. I made the mistake of picking a charity I was advised instead of picking a charity I’m personally passionate about, which is 100 per cent my fault,” said Kjellberg in the video.

“When I uploaded the video talking about the charity, it was very brief. People could tell something was up. The whole internet just didn’t believe it. ‘Why is he donating to this charity? Look at his face.’ Full conspiracy mode. It was very interesting to watch that unfold,” laughed Kjellberg.

He continued:

“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 and clear my name or say grace. If it was, I would have done it years ago. 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 ok with that.

I’ve struggled to figure out how to do that, but this was not the right way to go about it. I knew it wasn’t perfect, but I also didn’t know a lot of things that surfaced throughout this whole thing about the charity that doesn’t fit at all. So I understand why people had concerns about it.

These are things I would have known myself if I had just taken my time... It really doesn’t feel genuine for me to proceed with the donation at this point, and I instead wanted to actually take my time and keep the intent that I had, but do it with the right charity and doing it properly. I just wanted to make that clear. I’m sorry for all the confusion, and I’m sorry for messing this up. That’s what I do!”

Reached for comment, the ADL provided the same comment to Kotaku that they provided yesterday: “ADL learned about the potential donation from Felix Kjellberg when everyone else did: when he made the announcement on his channel earlier this week. We have not received any communication from him beyond that.” Kjellberg has not yet returned Kotaku’s request for comment.

Over the last couple of days, Kjellberg’s fans and followers have spread the claim that the ADL was blackmailing him after threats of “censoring” or, ironically, “defaming” him.

The backlash against his donation to the ADL was fuelled by conspiracies that the well-respected, 100-year-old anti-hate organisation could somehow shut down Kjellberg’s YouTube channel, which had just hit 100 million subscriptions. In a recent video, Kjellberg himself described the ADL as an “organisation that fights bigotry and prejudice in all its forms.”


Comments

    For christ sakes. Of course it was too good to be true. If you needed any more proof that even though he may just be a dipstick that doesn't think before he does anything, his fans are genuinely on their bullshit.

      So you're pro the ADL?

      You’d make a fine Republican.

        What are you babbling about?

          If you could contain your on-cue screeching at articles like this and dig a little deeper you might see the complexity of the issue for PDP.

          The ADL has some fairly offensive views on Muslims.. as well as any group which threatens Republican leadership in the United States.

    PDP: "I'm not a Nazi nor do I support Nazis. So I will do something to make up for my past tacit support of Nazis and white supremacists."

    *His Nazi fans threaten to complain & boycott his channel, products, and sponers*

    PDP: "OK. I was wrong in who I was going to give my money to. It still has nothing to do with Nazis though."

      I see it more as a "Damned if he does, dammed if he doesn't" situation.

      He donates to the charity, the alt right idiots believe he's being blackmailed by the ADL and that PDP is still one of the "good guys" and continue to spread wild conspiracy theories and harsh the ADL worse than what they have been previously.

      He doesn't donate, he is an alt-right poster boy and he's standing up against the ADL.

      The only way he can win really is just to donate and not say anything tbh.

        That still means he cares what Nazis think of him.
        And changes his behaviour based on what they think of him.
        And decides not to give a tiny fraction of his staggering wealth to people who need the money because Nazis said he shouldn't.

        There's no middle ground when it comes to fascists. You are either one of them, or you are against them. That's a dichotomy they made, not anyone else.

          Nah fuck that. $70,000 is not a small amount of change. Don't get me wrong going public with it and then not following through is shit, but god damn if me not doing something with that amount of money because I'm "not against them" is what you think, then that's just plain wrong. I don't watch him and I've seen the hiccups over the years but fuck at the end of the day he's still a person and has the right to choose what he does with his money.

            For a guy whose net worth is 30 million USD? That's small change. It's 0.23% of the money he has.

            He absolutely has the right to choose what he wants to do with the money and I absolutely have the right to call him a spineless dickhead for kowtowing to white supremacists.

              That's a fucking staggering amount of money, isn't it? Capitalism is a fucking mess.

          There's no middle ground when it comes to fascists. You are either one of them, or you are against them. That's a dichotomy they made, not anyone else.
          HAHAHAHAHHAAHAHHAHA
          Such delicious irony.

            Nope.

              Yep.

                How is it irony?

                  What you described in what i quoted, is what YOU do.
                  Especially when you call people who arent 'fascists' fascists, Because if they arent with you, they must be fascists.

                  Literal Nazis who self identify as Nazis and want to bring about a violent revolution in order create an ethnostate aren't the bad guys, here!

                  Being mean to Nazis for having different opinions is the real fascism!

                  Jesus fucking Christ, m2d2. I know you reflexively hate everything I say regardless of content, but this is nuts. Surely you aren't prepared to defend Nazis just to call me wrong?

          I guess part of the problem is that Internet celebrities like him are a lot more vulnerable than traditional celebrities. If you primarily work as a solo act and your income is directly linked to advertising and viewer figures, then pissing off fans can quickly result in loss of income. They've also got a much tighter feedback loop for their work.

          I suspect this is what has driven a lot of Pewdiepie's actions, rather than him being an actual fascist/alt-righter. If he immediately see spikes in viewer numbers and revenue each time the Nazis think he sent them a coded message, you can see why he might continue to pander to them. It's a bad decision long term, but probably pays off now.

          Or he's realising that if he goes through with it, those nazi's are going to go after the charity. By not going ahead, he may feel he's protecting from what he sees as a threat. I don't know the what the truth in his head is, but he seems to be at least trying to grow up. Lets at least acknowledge there could be another option.

          But you are right - if he isn't going to do something against them, it's all hollow.

            I mean, there could be. But it's unlikely given his history.

    Rescinding a charity donation after publicly announcing it is an absolute scum move. What a real piece of shit.

      It doesn't even accomplish what he's set out to do, convincing the conspiracy theorists that it wasn't blackmail, because now the fuckheads can just claim, "Oh, the ADL backed off because we were on to them! They didn't want to be caught in something so obvious, so now they'll try something else!"

        Yeah, well that's just because Pewdiepie's an idiot. If he'd ignored the conspiracy theories they'd have gone away. Instead he gave a starving flame air and turned it into a whole different (and much worse) kind of problem.

      If he was serious he'd have donated and not told anyone. Or at the very least donated and then told people *afterwards*. Hell, he could even donate 70k split across say, 7 charities at 10k each.

      One thing I do take out of this (assuming it's true) is that he has advisers telling him what to do. So he's not really himself anymore. He might as well just be an actor playing a part if that's true. When you get to a point where there are advisors or brand managers influencing your decisions I think it's time to step back and think about what you're doing (and whether they're really worth it).

      Yep. The already cashed-in good will from the announcement is going nowhere.

        Not good enough, by a long shot. His defence is still that his fans told him a bunch of distasteful things about the charity, and even though he said he doesn't think the ADL is as bad as it was made out to be, there's still a tacit belief that there's something bad enough to warrant pulling a donation, but one he's unwilling to elaborate on. This tells me he's aware the things he's heard lack substance, and so he's using vagueness to placate the racist fans that complained in the first place without giving a reason he knows could get him sued for defamation because it's false.

        I stand by what I said in a comment below: The best time to have done research into the charity was before the pledge. The next best time would have been before rescinding that pledge. He chose not to research them at all (he wouldn't be equivocating about his reasons if he had), and the response the media has given him is deserved - he rescinded a pledge to donate to an anti-discrimination charity. That's not spin, it's not the BBC writing clickbait, it's a factual statement that correctly carries with it a burden to properly clarify his reasoning. If that video is anything to go by, he's patently failed to do so.

          The ADL is a documented Zionist, Islamaphobic and honestly just racist organisation.
          Have a look at their thoughts on Palestine, Israeli Settlements etc. If you’re a typical Trump/Bush-voting Republican, then you’ll align with a lot of what they have to say.

          I mean, at face value, it seemed like a no-brainer for PDP. Nazi’s popping up - let’s donate to the ADL.

          But would you donate to an Arab-hating organisation after some lunatic muttered your name pre-Mosque shootup?

          I get people want to hate PDP. I’ve never really watched his stuff much myself... but this particular episode of leftist-outrage isn't rational.
          I'm tired of people reacting to trashy, leading articles like this one.

            The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the global problems I have the strongest feelings about. I'm firmly pro-Palestinian and reject Israeli incursion into Palestinian territory. I believe in a two-state solution with 1967 borders. I've boycotted and refused to do business with anti-Palestinian and Palestinian-exploitative groups like Sodastream. I think Netanyahu is a criminal who should be locked up. I'm strongly progressive, liberal and internationalist, so I have essentially nothing in common with Bush, Trump or the GOP.

            So keep that context in mind when I say I've done a lot of research on the ADL. I've seen no evidence of any of the things you've described. They've fought repeatedly in favour of Muslims including defending their freedom of worship, opposing anti-Muslim groups and denouncing bigoted opposition to the creation of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City ("We regard freedom of religion as a cornerstone of the American democracy, and that freedom must include the right of all Americans – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other faiths – to build community centers and houses of worship. We categorically reject appeals to bigotry on the basis of religion, and condemn those whose opposition to this proposed Islamic Center is a manifestation of such bigotry.").

            With respect to their position on Palestine, the ADL is pro-Palestinian state, supports a two-state solution, and has criticised the Israeli government for proposing laws that would infringe on the rights of Israeli citizens to freedom of religion, including Islam. While I oppose the notion of religious states at all, the ADL is correct that zionism is not inherently racist and the right for Israel to be a Jewish state is no less legitimate than the right of England to be a Christian state. The ADL rightly points out that being a religious state and infringing on the rights of people to freely practice other religions are separate things. To be clear, I very much believe the Israeli government is predominantly racist, and that Netanyahu is particularly racist, but zionism on its own isn't. That doesn't mean racists won't use zionism to justify their racism, and the organisation could better recognise that, but I'm not going to throw out the good work they've done to protect religious freedom for everyone on that basis.

            If you can provide reliable documentation on the things you've claimed, I'm happy to read and assess them. As I said above, I've done extensive homework on this organisation and that includes weeding out propaganda from racists, white supremacists and anti-Jewish conspiracy theorists whose transparent goal is to undermine an organisation who actively works against them. That doesn't mean my view is set and I'm genuinely happy to review it, but you need to give me verifiable evidence to back your claims.

    At this point it doesn't matter if he's racist or not because he has proven that he's spineless and a dickhead.

      Spineless dickhead is a pretty accurate description of most racists I've encountered. You have to be a pretty weak arse person to believe that your only value as an individual is derived from your skin colour.

    The tinfoil hat brigade is out in force I see. Here’s a nice and easy way to put it.

    He announced a charity donation. People do that. It brings attention to the charity. The attention it was bringing to the charity was negative, courtesy of the tinfoil hat brigade.

    He made a judgement call on whether the damage that continued to be done to the Charity (see all the comments about them blackmailing him and such) and to shut down the conversation he rescinded the donation he was going to do. So he’ll probably choose a different charity that be less of a target of the rabid tinfoil hat wearers.

    It’s the only real sensible solution to divert the loonies away from the ADL.

      He announced a charity donation. People do that. It brings attention to the charity.

      No, people do this in order to state "I am amazing". He, in particular, did this to state "look how I am growing up and definitely am not a sympathiser of supremacists!" People who want to bring attention to charities do so after becoming sponsors or donating. He himself has now admitted that he wasn't even well informed about it and someone else picked it for him, so where does your claim that he wanted to bring attention to it come from?

      He made his announcement, it increased his PR worth, rabid fans received a tactical nuke to deflect criticism ("but he is going to donate $70,000! Can /you/ say you've ever done that?") and now he rescinded it, kept the $70,000 and you can be sure that between his fans' gratitude and the publicity he has received for this little saga, he's increasing his profits.

      It’s the only real sensible solution to divert the loonies away from the ADL.

      Lol, so he has now set the loonies' sights on them, but they are not even getting the money? But hey, the most important thing is appeasing the "loonies". Here's an idea, maybe he can donate those $70,000 to the Proud Boys or other ethno-fascist groups! Surely that would appease them even more; what a hero he'd be!

    Stand by the original pledge, then give an additional 10,000 each and every week until the Nazis learn to shut the fuck up.

    And here everyone wants to Attack a man who has realised there might actually be more to the ADL than he first thought and so doesn't want to immediately jump into the pledge.

    When people are accused of assault the court of public opinion immediately condemns them, so why would it be a surprise that accusing an organisation of terrible things wouldn't end the same way? This just means that Pewds should investigate the claims against the league before going forwards.

    If no issues are found with the league, donate. if there are some, then leave it alone. If you look into it, there have been controversies surrounding the ADL before. It's not like they are squeaky clean or anything. To get tinfoil hat conspiracies there is usually some form of catalyst.

    Finally calling everyone a bunch of nazis is moronic. don't do it. %90 of the time the accused are not in any way neo nazi's and therefore constantly accusing them as such is in fact defamation. the same thing this organisation claims to aid in preventing.

      A bunch of the comments on both the pledge and rescind videos were claiming the ADL is a hate group while using echoes to call out Jews, claim their globalist conspiracy is ruining the country, and reassure Pewdiepie that he's 'a true Aryan role model' (actual words). If it looks like an anti-Jewish white supremacist with Aryan obsession, and quacks like an anti-Jewish white supremacist with Aryan obsession...

      As for 'more to the ADL than he thought', the overwhelming majority of things his followers raised in the comments were straight up lies. The only actual controversy of any notability relating to the ADL was Foxman's opposition to recognising the Armenian genocide as a genocide, back in 2007. All of the leadership involved at the time are no longer leading in the ADL, and the group's stance today unequivocally recognises the genocide.

        which is what people find once they do research. I'm saying that yeah do your due dilligence. It should be something people do before announcing anything to begin with. I don't really know enough about ADL to say whether or not they do good work on not so I'm not going to argue their merits or lack there of.

          Sure, I'm just saying that if he's going to accept what a bunch of obvious racists say at face value when they tell him a Jewish anti-racism charity is bad, then he's wilfully listening to the wrong people. His said he "didn’t know a lot of things that surfaced throughout this whole thing about the charity", which is disturbing when the 'things that surfaced throughout this whole thing' were almost entirely made up.

          I agree that the best time to have done research into the charity was before the pledge. The next best time would have been before rescinding that pledge. Instead he chose the worst time - never - and now has to wear the deserved ignominy of offering money to a charity fighting against racism and then yanking it away right after. That sends one hell of a bad message.

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