A popular YouTube video gaming personality who found his name involved in a federal complaint over deceptive advertising responded on Wednesday, maintaining he had been unfairly associated with the controversy and that he'd properly disclosed the sponsorship of the video in question.
"A lot of YouTubers were involved in this sponsorship," says Felix Kjellberg, aka PewDiePie, in the video above, "but since my name is the biggest YouTuber, my name is the only one that pops up."
Kjellberg was one of several YouTube stars enlisted by WB Games in 2014 to publicize Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor on YouTube. He was the only one referred to by name by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in a news release announcing its settlement with WB Games. The FTC's statement, which called him "the wildly popular PewDiePie," noted that his Shadow of Mordor video accounted for 3.7 million views alone.
Kjellberg maintains he disclosed his relationship with WB Games in the "About" text section of the YouTube video, even though he was not legally obligated to do so at the time. At any rate, Kjellberg argues, WB Games is the one liable for the misconduct alleged by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and the one subject to any sanctions, not he.
The FTC's complaint said WB Games paid Kjellberg and other "influencers" thousands of dollars, combined, and provided them with advance copies of the game to give it positive publicity. The FTC said that any disclosures made came within the video's description box where they were not immediately recognizable, enough to be deceptive under its standards.
Kjellberg said that, since then, he includes footage preceding any sponsored video to note that relationship. He also maintains that he was not required to make that type of a disclosure prior to 2015, and the Shadow of Mordor video in question comes from 2014.
"Yes, I could have disclosed it better (in 2014)," he says. "I could have put it above the fold. So basically, all of these news articles are using me as a clickbait, putting my name to shame, when I didn't even do anything wrong."
A settlement agreement between the FTC and WB Games requires WB Games to "monitor and educate" the influencers it sponsors on FTC disclosure policies and ensure they are being followed. No monetary sanctions were part of the settlement.
Kjellberg closed his remarks by stressing he was a celebrity victim caught up in a situation not of his making.
"If I did something wrong, I should be paying the consequences," he said. "In this case, I don't think I did anything wrong."