PewDiePie fans hacked the Wall Street Journal earlier today, claiming to offer an apology on behalf of the paper in an apparent attempt to get back at one of the YouTube creator’s longstanding opponents.
A sponsored post on the Journal’s affiliated site was edited to say that the publication would “like to apologize to pewdiepie” and that he had been “misrepresented” by the paper’s journalists. The hacked note also said that the Journal would be sponsoring PewDiePie in an attempt to beat a rival channel in a race over subscribers.
A Wall Street Journal representative told The Verge they’re aware of the issue and have launched a full investigation. “The page was owned by WSJ. Custom Solutions, a unit of the advertising arm, which is not affiliated with The Wall Street Journal newsroom,” the representative said.
The Wall Street Journal quickly took down the defaced page, but it’s still available to read via The Internet Archive.
PewDiePie fans have considered the Wall Street Journal to be an opponent of the creator’s since running an investigation into his channel in February 2017. The investigation highlighted his use of anti-Semitic language, which led to Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg losing his YouTube Red series, Scare PewDiePie and being dropped by Disney’s Maker Studios.
PewDiePie fans have used hacking to promote the creator’s channel at least once before. Just last month, a hacker claimed credit for breaking into a series of printers and printing out sheets asking people to subscribe to PewDiePie.
The other motivation behind the hack stems from PewDiePie’s ongoing battle with T-Series, a Bollywood studio and popular YouTube channel. T-Series is poised to usurp PewDiePie as the most popular channel on the platform, but fans and creators have banded together to keep Kjellberg at the very top. He’s grown his channel exponentially since the battle started, adding an additional five million subscribers in one month. The Journal hackers said the paper would help PewDiePie “beat Tseries to 80million” subscribers.
Beyond hacking, YouTube creators including Mr. Beast and Team 10 member Justin Roberts have taken out Times Square billboards and purchased signage around the US asking people to subscribe to PewDiePie.
The Wall Street Journal “apology” also comes just days after Kjellberg found himself embroiled in another controversy. After trying to end the battle with T-Series, Kjellberg promoted a channel that regularly featured anti-Semitic, homophobic, racist, and sexist comments. Kjellberg addressed the controversy in a followup video, where he claimed to be unaware of the racist language. He also edited the original video to remove the remarks.