YouTube's biggest star PewDiePie is back on Twitter after being briefly kicked off the online social networking service on Wednesday (31 August) shortly after joking that his account became unverified because he and fellow YouTuber JackSepticEye (Seán William McLoughlin) had joined the Islamic State (Isis). Known for his gaming videos, the popular Swedish YouTube celebrity, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, made the IS comment during a series of tweets about being unverified on the platform.
Shedding light on the sequence of events in a video published 31 August on his YouTube channel, Kjellberg said he purposefully removed the elusive blue "Verified" tick next to his name on Twitter because the "verification process" is "f**king annoying". He then replaced the verification badge with a world emoji after his name on the platform.
After a Twitter account parodying Sky News claimed that Kjellberg lost his verification status due to "suspected relations with Isis", he referenced the article on his own account, joking that both he and JackSepticEye had joined the terrorist organisation that sparked a barrage of questions and comments from fans.
In response, McLouglin tweeted back saying, "@pewdiepie I said NAZIS Not ISIS! God dammit Felix ..."
"I did this yesterday as a joke," Kjellberg said in the nearly six-minute-long video. "It was really funny because you can see a lot of people joined in, I added a globe instead," he said. "But then America woke up and that's when shit got stupid."
While most users did pick up on the joke, others fervently called on Twitter to re-verify the YouTube celebrity. Some also slammed Kjellberg, saying it is a sensitive issue and "not something to joke about" or "take lightly". Kjellberg added that some news outlets took his comments at face value. His Twitter account, which was accompanied by a graphic photo, was later suspended.
"I'm fairly certain social media is making us all retarded," Kjellberg said. "Everyone started freaking out, so dumb."
Mashable, citing "a source familiar with the situation", reports that Twitter wanted to make sure Kjellberg's account was not hacked after seeing the controversial tweet and accompanying graphic profile picture, which has now been changed.
The popular internet personality has more than 47 million YouTube subscribers and over seven million Twitter followers. His now restored Twitter account has already garnered 7.06 million followers and counting, albeit without the blue verification check mark.
A Twitter representative told Variety: "We don't comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons."
Twitter has come under fire in recent months with critics accusing the company of not doing enough to prevent and stop terrorist organisations from operating and spreading propaganda on the site. Many social media organisations including Twitter have also been slapped with lawsuits alleging that the companies knowingly allow terrorist groups and individuals to operate on their platforms.
The company announced earlier this year that it had suspended over 125,000 accounts for violating its "longtime prohibition on violent threats and the promotion of terrorism". Last month, Twitter announced that it had suspended 235,000 accounts in the past six months "for violating our policies related to promotion of terrorism", bumping its overall number of suspensions to 360,000 since mid-2015.
"Since that announcement, the world has witnessed a further wave of deadly, abhorrent terror attacks across the globe," Twitter wrote in a blog post. "We strongly condemn these acts and remain committed to eliminating the promotion of violence or terrorism on our platform.
"There is no one 'magic algorithm' for identifying terrorist content on the internet, but we continue to utilise other forms of technology, like proprietary spam-fighting tools, to supplement reports from our users and help identify repeat account abuse."