Anyone who spends a good amount of time on YouTube or tumblr has heard of the recent happenings with the YouTube channel, PewDiePie, created by UK based Swede, Felix Kjellberg. The Wall Street Journal posted an article about him being dropped by Disney for anit-semitic jokes and proceeded to include clips and screen captures [taken out of context according to Kjellberg] to prove their point. This article and others like it have been cropping up over the last few months in regards to Pewdiepie and it has prompted an uproar from the internet from multiple groups. It has inspired neo-nazis to support him, his long time subscribers to come to his aid and claim his innocence, and then there was the witch hunt. Social media users came out of the woodwork not just to deride Pewdiepie but to harass youtubers who have been connected to Pewdiepie for not renouncing him.

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I am in no way defending Kjellberg’s actions. Paying those boys to hold that sign was not okay but I do believe him when he says he didn’t think anyone would actually do it. I disagree with his belief that everything can be joked about. Subjects that resulted in trauma and pain will never be funny. Kjellberg has always had a reputation for having dark, offensive humor in Pewdiepie videos and I think he forgot that his “jokes” are viewable by more than just viewers who understand when he’s not being serious. He’s had a large group of anti-fans who never liked him for a multitude of reasons. Whether it be his ability to make large amounts of money by just playing videogames, or his twisted sense of humor, or the “internet entertainer” label; Pewdiepie has never been America’s sweetheart. But those people were waiting for a reason to come for him on a larger scale and this was their chance. They were quick to call him and anyone who didn’t disown him scum and a nazi and they all did it from behind a keyboard on sites where their hatred could come in numbers. I hadn’t encountered any contempt on this scale until this recent controversy and I think it’s safe to call this a witch hunt. Everyone who needed a reason to denounce him came out of the shadows in droves to bring him down from his pedestal as most viewed man and it wasn’t the first time.

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I recall in the end of 2016 Jennifer Lawrence, queen of the internet and everyone’s ideal bestie, fell from grace in a similar sort of debacle. She always charmed in her interviews with her candidness and digression from the perfect and poised movie star. She was the girl everyone wanted to be friends with. This was until she revealed on Graham Norton that she’d accidentally defaced sacred rocks while filming the Hunger Games and looked back on it without remorse. The tumblr community was quick to turn on her and label her as scum.

I think the dust may have settled on Lawrence, as it may with Kjellberg but this brings up concerns for me, and it should for others, how easily social media has made the mob mentality more accessible. Where one person or friend group may have agreed to hate someone before, thousands if not millions of people are able to come together now in solidarity to hate someone and that scares me. Of course outrage for Lawrence and Kjellberg’s actions is founded but the rampage that has been raging, not just against them but those close to them is ridiculous. It’s Witch Hunt 2.0 and in the internet age your choices are to join the hunt or refuse and be hunted.