Despite an avalanche of over-the-line jokes and gaffes that cost him deals and a show, as well as an ever-changing YouTube landscape, Felix “Pewdiepie” Kjellberg remains the king of YouTube mountain. For now, anyway: An Indian music production company called T-Series has been fast on his heels for a while and—with their subscriber counts at a near-tie—could topple him any day now. One fan decided to take matters into his own hands by hacking printers.
YouTube currently displays both Pewdiepie and T-Series as having 72 million subscribers, but in reality Pewdiepie is about 100,000 subscribers ahead. T-Series, however, has been making faster gains, leading fans to start advertising on Pewdiepie’s part. Some have done (relatively) normal things like playing Pewdiepie’s song “Bitch Lasagna” at a club. Others have purchased billboards in their cities, because it’s their money and they can do what they want with it, I guess. And while these fans are mostly having a laugh by *checks paper* throwing money and publicity at one of the world’s wealthiest, most popular YouTubers, there’s a method to the madness: People want the “face” of YouTube to remain an individual creator rather than a big company. (Granted, Pewdiepie is practically an enterprise himself at this point, but you get the idea.)
Recently, people in places ranging from Canada to the UK reported that their printers began mysteriously spitting out Pewdiepie ads.
“PewDiePie, the currently most subscribed to channel on YouTube, is at stake of losing his position as the number one position by an Indian company called T-Series that simply uploads videos of Bollywood trailers and campaigns,” the ad read, telling people to unsubscribe from T-Series, subscribe to Pewdiepie, and “Tell everyone you know. Seriously.”
On Twitter, a user named TheHackerGiraffe took credit for the ads, saying that people should “spread the word with your friends about printers and printer security” because “this is actually a scary matter.” Speaking with The Verge, he said that it was actually pretty easy to browse a repository of internet-connected devices and hack 50,000 of them: “The most horrifying part is: I never considered hacking printers before, the whole learning, downloading, and scripting process took no more than 30 minutes.”
Despite all that, the new Pewdiepie video did not mention TheHackerGiraffe. I guess global-scale cyber crime in the name of helping a Swedish millionaire stave off a multi-million dollar Indian music production company doesn’t pay after all.