On Monday, hackers authored a post on The Wall Street Journal’s website, filling it with a fake apology supporting YouTube megastar PewDiePie.
The paper has previously reported on how Felix Kjellberg, known as “PewDiePie,” shared anti-semitic messages with his tens of millions of subscribers. After a WSJ investigation, Disney cut ties with Kjellberg.
The defacement also makes a nod to the continuing spat between Kjellberg and rival YouTube channel T-Series, which is close to overtaking him as the most popular YouTube channel on the planet.
Motherboard became aware of the defacement when someone claiming to take responsibility for the act sent an email. “Why: to beat T-Series,” the anonymous person told Motherboard.
The message posted on the WSJ website reads, “WallStreet Journal would like to apologize to pewdiepie. Due to misrepresentation by our journalists, those of whom have now been fired, we are sponsoring pewdiepie to reach maximum subscribers and beat Tseries to 80million.”
T-Series currently has 75 million subscribers on YouTube, while Kjellbeg has 77 million. The hacker’s post continued with a variety of memes, encouraging readers to subscribe to PewDiePie’s channel.
At the time of writing, the page itself is offline. However, online archives are available.
Got a tip? You can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, OTR chat on email@example.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We also need your credit card number, expiry date, and the lucky 3 digits on the back to win the chicken dinner in fortnite,” the message also reads, without including contact information.
Shortly after the defacement, PewDiePie himself tweeted a link to the page, adding, “lol they deleted it, WSJ is still on angery [sic] list.”
The defacement itself appeared in a section of the WSJ site that publishes content paid for by commercial partners according to the website. Specifically, the page is linked to cybersecurity firm Oracle. Oracle did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The person claiming responsibility for the defacement said they obtained login credentials for the WSJ content management system.
“Their password was their username,” the person added. (Motherboard was unable to independently confirm this.)
A WSJ spokesperson told Motherboard in an email, "We are aware of the issue and the page has been taken down. The page was owned by WSJ. Custom Solutions, a unit of the advertising arm, which is not affiliated with The Wall Street Journal newsroom. We have launched a full investigation."
This is just the latest stunt that apparent PewDiePie fans have launched to try to encourage more people to view the channel. Last month, a hacker sprayed commands to printers around the world, to print a message telling viewers to subscribe to PewDiePie. Last week, the hacker repeated the stunt.
Last week, The Verge reported that Kjellberg gave a shout out to a channel which includes content with anti-semitic messages. The shout out was part of a wider video with Kjellberg mentioning several different, smaller YouTube channels that he wanted to briefly profile.
Kjellberg’s publicist did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Update: This piece has been updated to include a statement from the WSJ.
Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai contributed reporting.
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