In order to prevent fake accounts from being taken seriously, Twitter verifies certain accounts, labeling them with a blue check mark. Following an innocent joke in which PewDiePie unverified himself to draw attention to what he criticizes as “some sort of status symbol now,” things escalated. The joke then led to a fake news story, ongoing misunderstanding, and even involved a temporary account suspension for PewDiePie, the world’s most followed YouTuber.
Posted by a parody account of Sky News, a tweet surfaced stating, “Popular YouTuber PewDiePie unverified due to suspected relations with ISIS.” Even though the included link is to an actual article on Sky News that has nothing to do with PewDiePie or the Islamic State terrorist organization, and regardless of the fact that the account is clearly a parody, the damage was done. As PewDiePie documents in his response to the situation, which can be found in the video below, more than a few people took the claim a bit too seriously.
Not long after, the YouTuber’s Twitter was suspended, leading multiple outlets to assume it was due to the ISIS joke. When contacted for a statement by TheNextWeb, Twitter’s only response was “We don’t comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.”
While it is certainly possible that the ISIS joke was the reason behind the suspension, it seems unlikely given the tweet has yet to be removed. Far more likely is that it was due to the use of seemingly explicit profile picture. Clearly shown in PewDiePie’s response video, the picture involves the YouTuber simulating oral sex on a picture of a penis. With the Twitter account no longer suspended, the profile picture is now of a growling dog.
Using a globe beside his handle, instead of the verified blue check mark, PewDiePie has since taken to posting more parody news stories about himself, while quickly regaining followers after his suspension.