A YouTube sensation, Logan Paul appeared in major news headlines recently for posting a controversial YouTube vlog on December 31, 2017. Paul is a 22-year-old whose fame started from his Vine videos. Over time he grew his fan-base to 16 million subscribers on YouTube by vlogging daring stunts and displaying mischievous behavior. Initially, Paul and a couple of his friends were interested in the haunted aspect of the forest. As they documented their journey into the foliage they unexpectedly encountered a deceased suicide victim.
The controversial video he posted contained footage of a suicide victim’s hanging corpse in the Aokigahara forest, a notorious location for people to commit suicide in Japan. Though the face of the suicide victim was blurred, capturing the body in the film was deliberate as the camera zooms in on the victim. Many criticized the joking manner Paul had while on camera and felt that he did not take the situation seriously enough.
Paul’s controversial vlog in the Aokigahara forest received over millions of views as well as quick backlash from fans, non-fans, and other huge-platform stars. Some individuals took advantage of Twitter to voice their opinions such as Aaron Paul (not related) from Breaking Bad. After the video had gone viral for some time, Logan Paul took it down and apologized on Twitter addressing how the video was intended to “raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention.”
Many also criticized YouTube for allowing this video to be featured on the site as a trending video. A user on Twitter questioned YouTube’s regulation on creator content and how this video was allowed to remain published over 24-hours.
After a whole week of backlash from the Logan Paul controversy, YouTube responds through a tweet on Twitter claiming that ads on Paul’s channel will be “temporarily suspended”. According to Forbes, YouTube will be implementing two new policies that state videos of high profile creators will be manually reviewed and stricter entry into the YouTube Partner Programme to prevent users from monetizing on their content so easily.
YouTube does have policies regarding gory and graphic content and generally do not allow such content to surface on the site. However, this situation with Paul’s video was treated differently. Was it treated differently because Paul was a high profile character? Should it have been treated differently because of the creator’s high platform? Should have YouTube stepped in and take down Logan Paul’s vlog from the moment it received major backlash?