Felix Kjellberg, aka “PewDiePie,” the Swedish gamer behind YouTube’s most-subscribed YouTube channel, is a perfect candidate for deplatforming. Perhaps that’s why he’s made a deal to live-stream exclusively for the next several months on a new decentralized streaming platform, DLive.
Kjellberg, who plays video games for his more than 93.7 million YouTube subscribers, has committed offenses that could have gotten him banned from the Google-owned social platform, considering its anti-hate speech policy. Kjellberg has used the n-word during live streams. He has posted multiple videos featuring anti-Semitic “jokes” and Nazi references. He went so far as to show a man dressed like Jesus saying, “Hitler did nothing wrong,” and paid men to hold up signs in one of his videos that read, “Death to all Jews.”
Yet somehow (read: because he has the most popular channel), Kjellberg is still on YouTube. Sure, his YouTube multi-channel network, the Disney-owned Maker Studios, dropped Kjellberg because of his deeply offensive content. And YouTube canceled the show Kjellberg had planned to air on its premium subscription service, YouTube Red, called “Scare PewDiePie.” But advertisements are still running alongside his videos on the platform, meaning YouTube is funneling him money to share his content. Meanwhile, YouTube is taking 45 percent of his earnings, as it does from any creator who makes money from ads on its platform.
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DLive, the blockchain-based streaming platform where Kjellberg will live-stream exclusively on a weekly basis starting April 14, is positioning itself as a platform that “empowers creators” by not taking a cut of their revenue. Instead of advertisements, streamers on DLive can earn tokens via viewers’ donations and subscriptions. Viewers can get token rewards, too, for participating in regular questionnaires and votes on the platform. These tokens are called “LINO Points,” because DLive is built on a “test version” of the Lino blockchain, as founder and CEO Charles Wayn describes on the company’s website.
In a video announcing his partnership with DLive published on April 9, Kjellberg repeats the spiel on DLive’s website, which sounds a lot like other blockchain entertainment platforms proclaiming the joys of the “revolutionary rewards system” that token-based economies provide. Kjellberg also says that he will donate between $10,000 and $50,000 worth of LINO Points to other streamers on DLive as part of his deal with platform to get more people to use it. Kjellberg’s video on this, which he says is sponsored by DLive, already has more than 4.6 million views.
“Personally, I think it’s really cool to have a creator-based website actually putting creators first,” Kjellberg says in the video.
DLive’s guidelines for prohibited content, however, are similar to YouTube’s, and the company says that it can “suspend” or “disable” accounts that violate its policies. Since DLive boasts “decentralized ownership,” it’s unclear how exactly that disabling would take place if Kjellberg uses hate speech in his videos again. However, since the streaming platform isn’t taking any portion of Kjellberg’s revenue, it may have less incentive to keep him on board—less incentive than 45 percent of the popular creator’s earnings, at any rate.