Roblox, a Minecraft-esque game played by millions of children, has reinstated Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg after incorrectly banning him earlier this week, supposedly because of confusion regarding a prohibited meme related to his name.
In a forum post, Roblox said the game began banning usernames that include the term “pewdie” back in December after a series of memes that incorporated the term became a negative occurrence within the community. Roblox stated that its trust and safety team will sometimes block memes “that represent or are synonymous for behavior that falls outside of our community standards” in an effort to keep the game safe.
PewDiePie’s existing Roblox account was banned as part of that policy, the post says. But because the policy was only supposed to apply to new accounts, he’s been reinstated.
Kjellberg — and, seemingly, most others outside of the Roblox community — didn’t know about the banned meme. There isn’t any documented explanation of the “pewdie” meme from mainstream sites or meme explainer publications like Know Your Meme. Even a deep dive into the game’s open forums for community members yields few results for “pewdie” meme controversies.
It’s also possible the ban really just related to PewDiePie himself. Fans claimed to have discovered a forum post from a Roblox staff member in January 2019 that stated any content in connection to Kjellberg would be banned “due to his content redirecting to unsafe and inappropriate sites/channels, as well as continued inappropriate behavior.” The Verge has reached out to confirm the validity of the message.
Kjellberg addressed the situation in a video after fans pointed out that players were being banned for referencing his name during a live stream on Sunday, which brought in more than 120,000 concurrent viewers at its peak. Kjellberg live-streamed his gameplay session as a way to bring attention to the ongoing, mostly facetious battle between himself and T-Series, a Bollywood-centric YouTube channel that is close to overtaking Kjellberg as the most subscribed-to creator on YouTube.
“I watched the whole live stream,” Kjellberg says in the video above, following his ban. “I don’t remember saying anything bad. What did I do that was so bad?”
The confusion around Kjellberg’s ban has caught the ire of many people both inside and outside the Roblox community. One developer wrote on the forum that the lack of clarity around his ban spoke to communication problems between Roblox’s team and the rest of the community. They noted that “improvement in moderation communication would prevent miscommunication such as what happened with PewDiePie’s fans” because they don’t understand why a player, such as Kjellberg, was banned in the first place.
Kjellberg used his video to point out other concerns he had over Roblox’s language, including noting that the company’s own terms of service state that “Linked websites are not under our control, and we are not responsible for their content.”
The ban resulted in Kjellberg’s fans tweeting their anger over the situation, using hashtags like #unbanpewdiepie to call attention to the situation.
A Roblox representative declined to comment further to The Verge about whether people with “pewdie” in their usernames would continue to face bans, but the statement posted on the forum doesn’t suggest that will go away anytime soon. Although Kjellberg has his account back, there is still some confusion among players as to what the particular meme was and why people are still being banned.