Yesterday, Disney ended its deal with popular YouTuber PewDiePie after allegations of anti-Semeitc jokes and content. Now, as detailed by a report from Bloomberg, YouTube is distancing itself from the star, as well.
According to the report, Google is removing PewDiePie’s channel from its premium ad service and canceling his YouTube Red series.
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Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, faced backlash after a string of videos that contain anti-Semitic messages. One such video, for instance, saw the star laughing as he paid for two men to display a sign reading “Death to All Jews.” The videos caused Disney to cut ties with Kjellberg, who had an agreement in place with the company’s Maker Studios.
Following suit, Google decided today that, while the content didn’t meet the threshold for hate speech, it did violate its premium ad partnership requirements. Thus, Kjellberg was dropped from the Google Preferred program. This service, for those unfamiliar, is Google’s offering to high-profile YouTubers for selling brand-safe advertisements.
Furthermore, Google said that it was canceling Kjellberg’s YouTube Red show ahead of its second season. The show, called “Scare PewDiePie,” was one of the shows offered to YouTube Red subscribers that Google itself had helped fund.
Despite the anti-Semitic messages and drop from Google Preferred and YouTube Red, Kjellberg’s videos will remain on YouTube and be allowed to have advertising through Adsense, which is what drives most of the revenue of YouTubers:
So the company dropped Kjellberg from Google Preferred, its white-glove service for brand-safe ads, and canceled the second season of his show for YouTube Red. It didn’t remove Kjellberg’s videos from its site, nor restrict him from the regular system that drives most YouTube ads. A YouTube spokeswoman declined to comment further on the decision.
The situation marks put Google’s in an interesting predicament. In most cases like this, Google would only have to decide if a YouTuber had violated its generic hate speech guidelines. With PewDiePie, however, Google itself had a direct partnership with Kjellberg and was forced to consider that when taking into account the anti-Semitic messages.
Essentially, YouTube’s efforts with YouTube Red content and services like Google Preferred are putting Google in a similar position as content companies like Disney. And that’s a balance that Google will have to learn to manage as this case, and others, move forward.