UPDATE, 9:15 AM: Just kidding. PewDiePie, the world’s most popular YouTuber, did not follow through with his threat to delete his YouTube channel as he promised. PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, said it was just a joke that got of control. He had vowed terminate his channel today at 5 PM, London time.
PREVIOUS, Thursday, 8:05 PM: He said he’d delete his YouTube channel upon reaching 50 million subscribers and today PewDiePie, the world’s most popular Youtuber, has vowed to follow through with that threat. The Swedish-born, UK-based gamer and comedian, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, reached that subscriber milestone today and shortly after, said in a tweet that he will be terminating his Youtube channel on Friday at 5 PM, London time.
The move comes after a lengthy war of words by Kjellberg against YouTube over the video service’s recommended-videos system. Kjellberg insists the system has been changed recently, resulting in declining video views; but his complaints about the changes also include the conspiratorial claim that he is being penalized for, in his own words, being white.
“I’m white,” Kjellberg said in a video from December 2 in which he announced his plan to delete his account. “Can I make that comment? But I do think that’s a problem.” See the video here.
It’s unclear whether or not he was joking, as Kjellberg is known for elaborate gags that have landed him in virtual hot water before. He also suggested the types of titles he chooses as another possible reason he claims he is being singled out.
In a statement provided by YouTube to Deadline sister publication Variety, Youtube denied any changes that would have affected PewDiePie. “We are in touch with YouTube creators to address their concerns,” a YouTube spokesperson said, adding that the services has “found there have been no decreases in creators subscriber numbers beyond what normally happens when viewers either unsubscribe from a creator’s channel or when YouTube removes spammed subscribers.”
Kjellberg has also said that he was told by YouTube no changes had been made to its recommended videos algorithm. He has also in a follow up video denied any racial animus, instead arguing that any changes would negatively impact creators overall.
It remains to be seen if Kjellberg will actually delete his channel. We’ll follow up on this story once the deadline passes. Kjellberg earned $15 million for the fiscal year ending in June, according to Forbes.