PewDiePie 'sickened' after New Zealand gunman tells people to subscribe to his YouTube channel
At least 49 people died in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, with a gunman livestreaming his rampage on Facebook via a head-mounted camera.
“Remember lads, subscribe to PewDiePie,” one shooter said in a livestream from inside his car, filmed before he walked into the mosque and opened fire on people inside.
‘Subscribe to PewDiePie’ has become a rallying cry of supporters of the controversial YouTuber in his ongoing battle with Indian music label T-Series to be the world’s most popular YouTube channel.
“Just heard news of the devastating reports from New Zealand Christchurch. I feel absolutely sickened having my name uttered by this person,” PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, wrote on Twitter. “My heart and thoughts go out to the victims, families and everyone affected by this tragedy.”
Facebook has removed the gunman’s video and deleted his Facebook and Instagram accounts, though footage continues to circulate on social media. YouTube said it was also “working vigilantly” to remove any violent footage from its platform.
The PewDiePie and T-Series channels currently both have more than 89 million subscribers, with less than 10,000 separating them. Recently PewDiePie fans have gone to increasingly extreme measures in an effort to keep him the most-subscribed-to channel on YouTube.
Earlier this month, PewDiePie fans vandalised a World War II memorial in New York with the graffiti “Subscribe to PewDiePie”, which Mr Kjellberg also condemned.
Fellow YouTubers have rallied behind PewDiePie, claiming the content Mr Kjellberg produces could have in no way inspired the actions of the shooter.
“The whole situation is absolutely horrific, and trying to simplify deeper societal problems and use you as a scapegoat will only lead us further from addressing the real problems,” YouTuber RoomieOfficial wrote on Twitter.
YouTube personality Furious Pete added: “Absolutely horrible news. I also can’t imagine how it makes you feel with him saying your name. Those that watch you, know you had nothing to do with it. For those that don’t, I hope they read this tweet.”