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After Fans Protest, a YouTube Star Nixes a Big Donation

'PewDiePie,' accused in the past of racism, anti-Semitism, was going to give $50K to the ADL
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2019 8:27 AM CDT

(Newser) – YouTube star Felix Kjellberg, better known as "PewDiePie," seemed to want to rehab his image after people accused him of putting up racist and anti-Semitic content on his channel. And so the 29-year-old Swede vowed earlier this week to donate $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, an anti-hate nonprofit that's targeted him in the past—but strong reaction from fans appears to have made him renege. The BBC and Guardian now report that Kjellberg is withdrawing his promise for those funds to the ADL, and in a video uploaded Thursday, he tries to explain why. "Sorry for messing this up," he says in the clip to fans. "I made the mistake of picking a charity that I was advised [to] instead of picking a charity that I'm personally passionate about, which is 100% my fault." He adds: "I saw it as an opportunity to put an end to these alt-right claims that [have] been thrown against me."

In a tweet the Verge notes has since been deleted, Kjellberg noted an ADL donation "doesn't make sense to everyone, especially since they've outright spoken against me." Others are noting the apparent reason behind his decision. "All that this particular incident shows is that at least some of his followers have anti-Semitic leanings, and they were loud enough to get him to change course," a rep for the activist group Sleeping Giants tells the Guardian, adding that YouTube continues to struggle to contain extremism on the platform. The ADL, meanwhile, says in a statement it's still relatively in the dark about both the donation and the rescinding of it, and that it hasn't heard from Kjellberg. The vlogger says he still plans on donating the $50,000, though he's not yet sure who the recipient will be. (The New Zealand mosque shooter mentioned PewDiePie.)

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