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Online Trends

Published September 11th 2017

PewDiePie: The Latest Controversy, in Social Data

The Brandwatch React team takes a look at PewDiePie's latest controversy as game developers fight back against the Youtuber's offensive comments.

PewDiePie is in the news again after broadcasting more offensive content.

The highest paid YouTuber on Earth, who nets millions from his shouty gaming videos, caused a backlash over the weekend after using a racial slur during a live stream.

While playing a first person shooter, the YouTube star (real name Felix Kjellberg) began a verbal outburst that included calling his opponent a “f*cking n*****” correcting himself to “f*cking asshole”, adding: “I didn’t mean it in a bad way.”

It’s not the first time Kjellberg’s offensive content has landed him in hot water – so far this year he has already lost partnerships with Disney and YouTube over antisemitism and Nazi imagery in his videos.

His latest controversy comes just a couple of weeks after the Youtuber said he’d stop making jokes about Nazis.


Unsurprisingly, reaction to the incident was huge. Searching for mentions of PewDiePie across social media we found 8,600 on Saturday 9th of September (the day before) and 88,375 mentions on Sunday 10th of September as outrage peaked (a 928% increase).

And looking at sentiment-categorized tweets, negative sentiment soared on Sunday.

Here are the top hashtags used surrounding the YouTuber after the incident.

Brands fighting back

PewDiePie has an enormous following (he is the human with the most YouTube subscribers in the world) and his live streams and videos give publicity to all sorts of games.

Kjellberg’s repeated transgressions are uncomfortable for developers who’s games are being broadcast to millions, winning them plenty of eyeballs that could belong to customers, while a sometimes offensive commentary from the YouTuber runs over the top.

Sean Vanaman, developer of the game Firewatch that is featured on PewDiePie’s channel, has taken a stand and is encouraging other developers to follow suit. He launched a scathing Twitter thread.

Whether or not developers will be successful in pulling footage from their games from PewDiePie’s channel is unclear, but if he is cut off by larger gaming companies he could see his resources (including his follower count and revenue stream) could shrink dramatically in the coming years.

Have we seen the end of PewDiePie? The next few days will tell.

Are you a journalist looking to cover our data? We have plenty more. Email us for more information


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