YouTube star PewDiePie has published a video update addressing his controversial plans to donate $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and says that he will no longer be donating after his initial announcement drew backlash from fans who knew about the ADL pushing policies that have harmed the livelihood of YouTube creators.
Instead, PewDiePie he will be keeping the intent that he had and taking his time to find the “right charity” to donate to.
In the video, titled “My 100 Mil Award BROKE!” PewDiePie discusses how the plans to donate to the ADL came about, the subsequent backlash from the announcement, and why he’s now decided to donate to a different charity.
PewDiePie begins by saying that as part of the brand partnership with Honey, a browser extension that automatically finds online discount codes, he and his team wanted to donate to a charity and that he chose the ADL based on advice instead of his own personal passion:
“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 that I was advised instead of picking a charity that I'm personally passionate about which is 100% my fault. Usually when I pick a charity, I take my time, I find a charity that I'm really excited about and actually passionate to donate to. So when I uploaded the video talking about the charity it was very brief and people could tell something was off. The whole internet just didn’t believe it like “why is he donating to this charity”, “look at his face”, full on conspiracy mode and it was very interesting to watch that unfold.”
PewDiePie then discusses how he also saw the donation as an opportunity to distance himself from the “alt-right” claims that he has been labeled with by some legacy media outlets over the years:
“To be fair, 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 save grace. If it was I would have done a 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 okay with that. I've struggled to figure out how to do that but this was not the right way to go about it.”
Finally, PewDiePie talks about how he had little knowledge of the ADL but due to things that he has become aware of since announcing the donation, he will no longer be donating.
“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 and these are things that I would have known myself I had just taken my time. This whole thing was planned during my wedding and the honeymoon and 100,000,000 was coming up as well so it was all very rushed it really doesn’t feel genuine for me to proceed with a donation at this point.”
The ADL is one of YouTube’s “Trusted Flaggers” and consults with YouTube directly on how to deal with issues such as “hate speech.” YouTube’s new “hate speech” policies regularly impact creators of innocuous content on YouTube and often lead to their videos being demonetized or deleted. Some examples of those impacted by these changes include model makers and independent journalists.
Despite the wider collateral damage on the creator community, YouTube is ramping up its removals of content under this policy and says that it removed over 100,000 videos and 17,000 channels for “hate speech” in Q2 2019 – a 5x increase on the previous quarter.
The ADL has not only welcomed this aggressive content moderation on YouTube but said that it’s “insufficient and must be followed by many more changes from YouTube and other tech companies to adequately counter the scourge of online hate and extremism.”