Why YouTube's Biggest Star PewDiePie Threatened to Delete His Account

Image: Felix Kjellberg
Felix Kjellberg, aka PewDiePie, arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Ender's Game" on Oct. 28, 2013.Matt Sayles / AP file

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By Alyssa Newcomb

The most followed man on YouTube pulled a fast one on his followers after claiming he'd delete his account once he hit 50 million followers.

PewDiePie, real name Felix Kjellberg, has a reputation as a prankster; however, he sent some fans into a panic this week when he claimed he would delete his YouTube channel once he reached 50 million subscribers.

Related: PewDiePie Gets Twitter Timeout After ISIS Joke

The reason? Kjellberg said he was protesting a new YouTube algorithm that has led to some YouTubers losing up to 40 percent of their audience.

Though he didn't actually end up deleting his account, he did follow through on another promise: Bringing global attention to the issue.

After hitting 50 million subscribers, YouTube feted the milestone — and the prank — tweeting, "Good one, bro."

The Swedish star, who made $15 million this year from his channel, later said he was joking. But for a while, he was taken seriously by his fans.

It's hardly his first prank. In August, he purposefully unverified his account, which has 8.31 million followers, removing the little blue check mark reserved for public figures.

It's not the first time PewDiePie has made a bold statement and then backed away from it. In August, he joked he was unverified on Twitter because he had joined ISIS. The comment set off an avalanche of questions from his followers, but Kjellberg later explained the joke was on them.