Swedish YouTuber PewDiePie, who has been waging a ‘who will have the highest subscribers on YouTube’ battle with TSeries, found himself embroiled in controversy on Friday, 15 March.
Multiple terrorists opened fire in two mosques in Christchurch in New Zealand, killing at least 40 people and injuring 20 others. However, minutes before unleashing the attack, the gunman live-streamed the entire process – in it, he asked people to subscribe to PewDiePie.
#BREAKING: Police in New Zealand reviewing online posts purportedly written by Christchurch shooting suspect before massacre.— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) March 15, 2019
In video streamed to Facebook, suspect encourages viewers to subscribe to "PewDiePie," a popular YouTube personality. pic.twitter.com/Pisc4X1UH1
The gunman live-streamed himself loading several weapons inscribed with names into a silver van and driving to the mosque, reports BuzzFeed.
According to the footage, the gunman was live-streaming through a GoPro device to Facebook. The nearly 17-minute video was also posted on YouTube.
In the first few minutes, the gunman says, 'Remember lads, subscribe to Pewdiepie' – the Swedish Youtuber has been condemned in the past for spewing racial slurs and making anti-Semitic comments on his channel.
‘Feel Sickened Having My Name Uttered’
The YouTuber responded to the Christchurch shooting on Twitter by distancing himself from the shooter and offering condolences to the families.
Just heard news of the devastating reports from New Zealand Christchurch.— ƿ૯ωძɿ૯ƿɿ૯ (@pewdiepie) March 15, 2019
I feel absolutely sickened having my name uttered by this person.
My heart and thoughts go out to the victims, families and everyone affected by this tragedy.
Meanwhile, representatives from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube said they have suspended the accounts of a suspected gunman and are working to remove all versions of a video of the shooting from their platforms.
Mia Garlick, a spokesperson for Facebook New Zealand, said in a statement to BuzzFeed that police alerted them to the live-streamed video.
"“Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the community affected by this horrendous act New Zealand Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we removed both the shooter’s Facebook account and the video.”"
A spokesperson for YouTube said in a statement that, “Shocking, violent and graphic content has no place on our platforms, and is removed as soon as we become aware of it.”
Twitter also said it had taken down the account of the suspected gunman and was working to remove all versions of the video.
The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, called it the ‘darkest day in New Zealand’.
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