PewDiePie's break from YouTube isn't unpleasant, but his defence of harassment is

PewDiePie's break from YouTube isn't unpleasant, but his defence of harassment is

YouTuber and internet sensation Felix 'PewDiePie' Kjellberg has announced that he'll be taking a break from YouTube in 2020.

Discussing his decision in a video, Kjellberg said: “I am taking a break from YouTube next year. I wanted to say it in advance because I made up my mind. I’m tired. I’m feeling very tired,"

"I don’t know if you can tell. Just so you know, early next year I’ll be away for a little while. I’ll explain that later but I wanted to give a heads-up.”

While Kjellberg cites exhaustion as the main reason for taking a break, he also details other issues he has with YouTube, including the recent revision of its harassment policy. He criticises the platform's plans to take down old videos that were uploaded before the changes to the policy. 

"What I've learned about YouTube's policies is that it doesn't matter what they say, it's how they enforce it," Kjellberg said.

“Why retroactively take down videos? If you’re going to make a new policy change, then go from there. Don’t go back and hit old videos. What does that fix?"

"The worst people out there"

Kjellberg's defense of old videos is a little flimsy - almost implying that videos made before the cutoff point should be exempt from new rules designed to keep offensive content at bay. While he has a point that these videos were not breaking the terms of service at the time they were made, they also cannot be an exemption to what is allowed to exist on YouTube.

In the same breath, Kjellberg also calls YouTubers "degenerates" and "the worst people out there".

"We pull the worst sh*t imaginable just to get views on this platform, that's how we get paid,"

Kjellberg goes on to call YouTube an "anarchy system" where if one creator goes too far, they will be called out by other creators and accuses YouTube of "ruining the fun". 

"The rule is if you do dumb sh*t on YouTube, you will get called out on it. We need that, it's the only thing keeping us sane," he added.

Kjellberg brutishly implies that YouTubers should only answer to other YouTubers, which is a bold claim after calling them "the worst people out there". It is also absolutely nonsensical, as YouTube has let targeted harassment towards LGBTQ+ minorities slip through the cracks for far too long, and also defended it on occasion

But again, it's not out of character for Kjellberg to display levels of insensitivity in the name of content. Retracting a donation to an anti-hate group and his classic racial 2017 outburst are just a couple of examples. These guidelines have been revised to hold abusive creators to account because no one else will.

Hate salesman 

This isn't the first time Kjellberg has stepped away from the platform. The creator had a similar lapse in 2016, citing stress as a reason to take a break from making content. Last year, Kjellberg also threatened to delete his channel after it surpassed 50 million subscribers, a decision strongly influenced by YouTube's poor monetisation efforts.

“I am legit making more on selling these hats this month than I’m making on ad revenue despite uploading daily content. Do you understand how bad ad revenue is?" Kjellberg said in a video last May.

"I might as well not even call myself a YouTuber. I’m a hat salesman at this point. That is my profession. Really I just wanna just want to thank YouTube for having such a great way of monetising their platform. It’s wonderful.”

In August last year, Kjellberg's wife Marzia Bisognin also made the decision to stop uploading to YouTube permanently. At the time, Bisognin stated: "I don't want to force myself to keep going when I know that I'm ready to do something different".

Kjellberg has been making YouTube content since 2010. He first rose to fame in 2011, before hitting a million YouTube subscribers in 2012. Since 2013, he has been the most-subscribed individual creator on YouTube, surpassing 100 million earlier this year


Danielle Partis is editor of and former editor of She was named Journalist of the Year at the MCV Women in Games Awards 2019, as well as in the MCV 30 under 30 2020. Prior to Steel Media, she wrote about music and games at Team Rock.