Felix Kjellberg, known online as PewDiePie, is an undisputed controversy king of YouTube. With over 111 million subscribers amassed since 2010, he’s both a trendsetter and a contentious figure. He helped define early video game content and broke viewership with daily uploads, while also catching heat for using racial slurs, paying unsuspecting accomplices to hold up a sign that said “death to all Jews” as a “joke,” and even getting in a full-on feud with the country of India after releasing a diss track song against an Indian music label.
He’s posted a wide range of content in over 4,700 videos, including vlogs, fan reactions, and video game playthroughs. Those “Let’s Play” videos were recently reused and streamed non-stop on Kjellberg’s unearthed Twitch channel, which was inactive for many years until March. But just under two months since the channel became active again, on May 8, Kjellberg’s channel was unceremoniously temporarily banned—and fans don’t know why.
Theories are running rampant, including speculation it was due to a controversial Twitch-banned game known as Yandere Simulator, which contains brutal gore and sexualized representations of underage girls. Though uncertain, these rumors are only further amplified by the lack of public response from Twitch about their reasoning behind the ban.
A Twitchy history
On March 21, Kjellberg’s Twitch channel randomly jumped back to life showing reruns of the Canadian classic television series Trailer Park Boys. The channel had been abandoned since 2016, leading some fans to think that the account had been hacked. But those reruns were actually intentional—Kjellberg had partnered with California-based company CoPilot Media to take over his stream. The company pinned messages in the channel’s chat announcing the collab.
According to their website, CoPilot Media exists to “create value by placing existing content libraries in front of new audiences.” They own the rights to older shows like Mystery Science Theater 3000, Alf, and Trailer Park Boys and claim to work with platforms like Hulu, Roku, and Netflix.
Just a few days later on March 23, old videos of Kjellberg playing video games started to appear on the channel. Labeled “PewDiePie Infinity” by the stream’s description, the stream played these videos 24 hours a day to an average of around 1,500 viewers, according to TwitchTracker. The videos shown were still available on his YouTube channel, but the added community aspect of a chat room and the novelty of a new stream pulled viewers in.
An unexpected ban
But seemingly out of nowhere to many fans, Kjellberg’s Twitch account was suspended with a note on the page saying, “This channel is temporarily unavailable due to a violation of Twitch’s Community Guidelines or Terms of Service.” Fans and YouTubers theorized what could have led to the ban, thinking that some of Kjellberg’s videos might have been allowed on YouTube but were too risque for Twitch.
Kjellberg and CoPilot Media did not respond to Passionfruit’s request for comment via email. Twitch declined to comment on the specific case of PewDiePie, saying, “We don’t comment on individual cases. However, hateful conduct, including the use of hateful slurs and symbols, violate our community guidelines.”
Kjellberg is known for getting into controversy while live streaming. While YouTube streaming PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in 2017, Kjellberg blurted out the N-word while in a gunfight in front of an audience of tens of thousands. The story gained worldwide media attention and led Kjellberg to issue an apology.
One highly speculated reason for the Twitch ban, though unconfirmed, could be that Kjellberg’s Twitch channel showed a 2015 video of Kjellberg playing the controversial game Yandere Simulator, which is still available on YouTube. The game has players controlling a high school girl stalking their crushes and brutally murdering any girls who express their own interest. It is also full of gore-y violence and contains “panty shots” of underage girls. In 2016, the game was added to Twitch’s list of prohibited games.
According to chat logs seen by Passionfruit, on April 25, a channel moderator wrote in the chat room for the Twitch stream that Kjellberg was not live and that the video was showing an old recording of Yandere Simulator. There’s no way to know for sure if the game was actually being played since Twitch’s games category, which usually displays what’s being played, showed the “Always On” option, only noting the channel was playing a continuous live stream.
Still, with a lack of public confirmation from Twitch, Kjellberg’s followers and fellow creators are all left puzzled about the exact reason behind the ban.
What should creators know?
Rehosting old content on Twitch makes a lot of sense for a creator, as it makes old content work for you again. But each site allows different types of content, making it risky to just dump your back catalog onto a new site. Still, putting those old videos to work for creators again makes a lot of sense, even if there is a risk of it all getting shut down for unexplained reasons.
Twitch has a policy not to speak on specific channel bans, so it’s unlikely we’ll ever have an on-the-record comment on why his channel bit the dust. Guy Beahm, a popular creator known as DrDisrespect, was permanently banned from Twitch in June 2020 and is the most famous example of a ban without a publicly known reason. Beahm sued Twitch’s parent company Amazon just a few months after his ban and in March 2022, the case was resolved, with Beahm tweeting that “no party admits any wrongdoing.”
If a lawsuit can’t get Twitch to share a public explanation on a specific case, it’s unlikely anything else will—although by pointing out the use of hateful slurs and symbols in their statement to Passionfruit, it’s likely hateful language has something to do with PewDiePie’s situation.
Twitch, like any other platform, can decide at any time to suspend, demonetize, or terminate an account if they decide it isn’t adhering to its terms of service. To avoid getting permabanned, it’s important to be mindful of Twitch’s list of prohibited games and rules—which prohibit “inaccurate, unlawful, infringing, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, harassing, threatening, abusive, inflammatory, or otherwise objectionable” content.
Hopefully one day, Twitch will provide some more transparency around cases like DrDisrepect and PewDiePie. Until then, fans and creators will be left scratching their heads.