In the wake of controversy, YouTube finally took action in reprimanding Logan Paul. On Dec. 31, Paul uploaded a disrespectful video that featured a corpse he found at the Aokigahara forest—better known as the suicide forest of Japan.
Logan Paul is a vlogger that jumped onto YouTube after Vine was shut down. He has some 15 million subscribers and is considered one of YouTube’s flagship creators. He and his brother Jake Paul, over the past year, have gained a reputation for the increasingly infamous videos they upload.
The new controversy surrounding Paul is no different. His friends and he went to the Aokigahara forest in Japan for a camping trip during New Year’s and, while in a restricted area, found a dead body. The natural response would have been to put the camera down, but Paul instead features the victim heavily. The body had its face censored, but Paul proceeded to talk about suicide prevention while showing the hands and other features of the victim.
The video garnered a lot of backlash, but only after it hit top trending and got six million views. YouTube began with vague statements.
“YouTube prohibits violent or gory content posted in a shocking, sensational or disrespectful manner,” said Youtube. “If a video is graphic, it can only remain on the site when supported by appropriate educational or documentary information and in some cases, it will be age-gated.”
The video was not taken down, nor was it age-gated although it clearly violated YouTube’s policy. Last year, Pewdiepie, YouTube personality with over 59 million subscribers, was dropped instantaneously when he used racial slur on film in the wake of being branded a nazi, but Paul showed a dead man’s body with close-ups. Only after deep criticism did YouTube cut Paul’s partnership.
Logan Paul issued a public apology to his fans and the victim’s family on Jan. 2 that was, like the original video, not monetized, but for many that was not enough.
“For my fans who are defending my actions, please don’t,” said Paul. “They do not deserve to be defended.”
“Like many others, we were upset by the video that was shared last week,” Youtube said in an official statement. “Suicide is not a joke, nor should it ever be a driving force for views.”
YouTube is in a public relations nightmare along with Logan Paul; YouTube tried to repair damages by cutting ties with him. YouTube also admitted that the video violated community guidelines, but neglected to mention that they did not take it down themselves.
“[We’ll] have more to share soon on steps we’re taking to ensure a video like this is never circulated again,” said Youtube.
YouTube is in need of serious reform. They took the right steps in denouncing Logan Paul officially and cutting his partnership, but it goes beyond Paul and his mistakes. YouTube has a history of favoritism that needs to be addressed and fixed.
Their most notable act of hypocrisy came last year during the Las Vegas tragedy. Casey Neistat, another famous YouTube personality, created a video to raise awareness of the shooting. In the video, he said that the ad revenue he got from the video would go to a fundraiser he created for the victims. YouTube was swift in demonetizing the video, claiming they cannot run ads on videos about tragedy.
Soon after, Phillip DeFranco brought attention to a video by Jimmy Kimmel about the Las Vegas tragedy that continuously ran ads. Unlike the Logan Paul controversy, YouTube made no statements, and the video runs ads to this day.
“People are tired of this. Be better,” DeFranco said.
YouTube needs to take these words to heart. When the next controversy strikes, they need to be ready, respond quickly and, above all, fairly.