A Utah man was arrested Saturday for allegedly threatening to kill YouTube employees in a series of comments left on the video platform over the last eight months.
David Levon Swanson, 35, was charged with threats of terrorism, a second-degree felony, and released on $100,000 bail, according to police records.
The charges stem from comments Swanson allegedly made on three YouTube videos.
The first comment, which was allegedly posted in September 2018 on a video dissecting drama around popular YouTuber Logan Paul, said “The only thing that comes after the death of YouTube is a funeral for all the executives that were rightfully murdered.”
In December 2018, he allegedly commented on another video, referencing tech giants Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter. “Their only hope of not getting their executive teams slaughtered (by gun) is to clean up their act and start following the spirit of the US Constitution," he allegedly wrote.
Swanson also allegedly commented on a video from Pewdiepie last month, in which the platform’s most popular creator urged followers to discontinue using a popular saying, “Subscribe to Pewdiepie,” following references made by the Christchurch, New Zealand shooter who killed 51 people.
"It's actually because the goons at YouTube think their ideology has won another victory. They see Pewds as someone that is moving further away from the religion they believe in (Leftism) and bringing millions with him,” Swanson allegedly wrote. “I'm not saying YouTube employees need to die, but I know they are at least as evil as any Of the worst groups in history because their hearts are evil and they happen to be wielding the weapon of the power of speech. They won't last much longer."
In another comment on the same video, Swanson wrote, “Get woke go broke, and when I visit your campus in two weeks I’ll be able to shoot any employees exiting, from the convenience of my car, because the First Amendment allows me a right to do so.”
The Orem Police Department told an ABC7 Bay Area reporter that Swanson had visited the Bay Area in May. "He admitted to posting those comments and talked more about how it was a play on words and that when he was referring to shooting, he was referring more to a cellphone or a video camera," Lt. Trent Colledge said.
Swanson also admitted to owning a handgun, Colledge said.
A YouTube spokesperson said, "“Our number one priority is to protect the safety and welfare of everyone that works at YouTube. Our security team is aware of this threat and is working closely with law enforcement to monitor the situation.”
Swanson did not return calls seeking comment.
Through his personal YouTube account, Swanson subscribed to channels by gun and self-protection groups, as well as conservative channels like The Dave Ramsey Show. Swanson also subscribed to leader of the far-right collective Vincent James Foxx’s channel Red Elephants, and Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes’s channel. The Proud Boys is an all-male right-wing crew designated a hate group by The Southern Poverty Law Center.
Swanson used YouTube to create playlists of construction videos, Mormon sermons and ultraconservative political videos. Videos mocking transgender people, feminism, slavery reparations, and affirmative action are in his collection as is content from conservative YouTube celebrities Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and PragerU.
One playlist on Swanson’s account was titled “Beginning of the End.” It includes 13 videos from online celebrities Joe Rogan, Tim Pool, Ben Shapiro and others about the so-called “culture wars,” decrying liberalism, feminism, and imagined censorship of conservative voices by YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
He also appeared in several nonpolitical viral YouTube videos, including one in which a team recreated a Mad Max chase scene with go-karts that has been viewed more than 8 million times.
The motive behind Swanson’s alleged threats remains unclear.