For Logan Paul and Others, What Happens Online Doesn’t Stay Online

The controversy started with a Youtube video released by Logan Paul on his Youtube channel, Logan Paul Vlogs, in December 2017 about a trip to Japan’s Aokigahara or more commonly known as the “Suicide Forest”. In the video, which has now been taken down, Paul films himself and several fellow Youtubers as they take a walk through the forest. In the video, they find a body of a recently deceased person who committed suicide. Paul then films the body, showing the identity of the deceased, and cracks a few jokes at the expense of the deceased. Some very important questions were raised in this video, but this is certainly not the first time controversy has struck the video-sharing site.

YouTube star under fire for video of apparent suicide victim

Logan Paul is not the first to cause controversy

Logan Paul is a specialist in a genre of web videos known as vlogs, which is short for video blogs. It’s more or less a web-only, low budget reality television. This form of entertainment has bred a new generation of online celebrities such as Casey Neistat, Zoella (Zoe Suggs), Nigahiga (Ryan Higa), all of whom have multi-million dollar contracts for different projects. There are millions of videos like these online, and one can see why. This form of web video, unlike previous generations of Youtuber, requires little skill and only the minimum preparation and filmmaking skills. For both filmmakers and viewers, it largely acts as an escape from a modern world and the traditional workplace with its 9-5, straitjacket uniforms, and mind-numbing routine.

However, the platform hasn’t been without its controversies. Several Youtubers have faced scandals about their relationships with fans. Tom Milsom, a famous vlogger known for his distinctive blue hair and various fandoms, stirred controversy when he admitted abuse allegations about inappropriate relations with an underage fan were true. Alex Day also stirred up controversy for multiple inappropriate relationships with women. Sam Pepper, who is known for his real-life pranks, has gotten into numerous problems with law enforcement and viewers. Even for those with well-meaning intentions, such as Laci Green, the platform becomes less of a utopian escape and more of a hellish battlefield of anti-social trolling and dangerously zealous death threats. The list goes on and on. Outside of the vlogging community, Pewdiepie (Felix Kjellberg) caused massive controversy and ended his contract with Disney after reports emerged with numerous racist and antisemitic comments on multiple videos. Logan Paul is just another addition to the already long list.

Tom Milsom, disgraced Youtuber, is a cautionary tale about the dangers of online celebrity.

What this incident clearly shows is the Logan Paul was incredibly reckless in his decision making. This could have been avoided. There have been numerous other Youtubers who have visited the famous forest without half of the controversy. It is more striking when one looks at the first “apology” that Paul delivered on Twitter, stating that his lax decision was due to overwork.

Web video culture is everywhere

The effect of scandals are not minor. When a website has a viewership the size of the third largest country in the world, it is no laughing matter when a controversy erupts on the site. Events like Vidcon with attendance in the thousands, as well as numerous influential advertisers spending money into the event, its clear that web videos have taken on a culture of their own. Companies have taken notice of this influence and exploited it to their benefit, since over 60% of young people trust online product reviews from Youtubers. Even at the supposedly untouchable higher echelons have welcomed the upstart platform, from the filmmaking community, in the form of the Webby Awards, a web version of the Oscars, as well as politicians such as Barack Obama, extending vloggers a visit to the White House.

Even the highest office in the land has acknowledged the power of Youtube.

However, this is not a call for a complete and total embargo of web videos or Youtube. It is becoming increasingly clear that the web site’s newfound popularity needs to be managed appropriate to its enormous global influence. According to Dr, Chee, a psychologist and creator of Purposefully Today, a blog about mental illness, given the popularity of the channel, combined with the age group of the audience, several negative outcomes such as the possibility of copycat suicides combined with the negative stereotyping of suicide victims, especially in a more conservative culture like that of Japan would have their impact expanded a thousandfold because of Youtube’s global influence.

Youtube’s actions post-controversy

Youtube took action against Logan Paul after the backlash the video received. However, despite the growing criticism, during the entire existence of the video, Youtube never put down the video themselves. It was instead removed by Logan Paul himself. The only actions that Youtube carried out were to remove Paul from Google Preferred, an advertising program which promotes popular Youtubers and cut Paul from the upcoming Youtube Red movie The Thinning: New World Order and from Foursome, an ongoing Youtube Red comedy series which he had participated in.

YouTube‏Verified account @YouTube Jan 9

It’s taken us a long time to respond, but we’ve been listening to everything you’ve been saying. We know that the actions of one creator can affect the entire community, so we’ll have more to share soon on steps we’re taking to ensure a video like this is never circulated again.

Paul himself issued a video apology and went on several news programs and talk shows to talk about the controversy his video stirred. He also promised to donate $1 million to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The question to be asked is, was that enough? There are no simple answers there. Even now, there is still an online petition circulating on Change.org, which at the time of writing, has over half a million signatures, demanding permanent removal of Logan Paul’s Youtube account.

The next question to be asked is what will happen to the format of Youtube. Currently, the platform has a three strikes policy, which states that if a channel receives three strikes within a three month period, the channel will be terminated and all videos erased from the site. Paul’s channel currently has one strike for the controversial video along with an additional age restrictions and removal of monetization privileges. However, it seems that Youtube leadership is still in favor of keeping Paul’s channel on the site and not changing the guidelines, as a statement by Youtube CEO Susan Wojcicki says, because ultimately, “What you think is tasteless is not necessarily what someone else would think is tasteless.” Just to add context to the decision, there is a perverse incentive structure for the platform. Given that Youtube receives somewhere around 40% of revenue from video ads, a channel as popular as Paul’s would garner the website somewhere around $1 million for the company. So it seems this will be a lesson ignored for the website, which is no surprise. What is becoming clear is that this is a systemic problem, one which the platform has no intention of dealing with.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Contributing writer for The Artifice.
Edited by idleric.

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28 Comments

  1. Rojas
    0

    I had a conversation about how I didn’t think Logan Paul was actually that bad of a person about a week before Logan posted the video. I haven’t only completely changed my mind since the video, I completely regret the conversation.

  2. Stephanie
    0

    I have no idea why everyone is shocked … we have a Sociopath for President. This seems to be the norm!

  3. Jessy
    0

    As a parent I have now banned my 11 yr old from having access to YouTube….Logan ruined it for him.

  4. Man Pendergrass
    0

    Speaking from experience working on the media side – and I won’t speak for all advertisers – most brands do not want to associate with loose cannons. Last year, when the issue with extremist content came to the fore, brands dropped youtube as a spend channel overnight. Google had to send teams to all our media agencies, willing to bend over backwards to convince us to resume media.

    Which is to say, wherever there is a “creator” acting like a piece of shit, brands will bail.

  5. Yahaira
    0

    How come such a huge company, with so many resources and tons of talent can be this lazy with software?

  6. jasmin
    0

    I’m tired of this new world order where political interest groups and large corporations get to decide what is morally acceptable.

  7. Locke
    0

    Logan Paul is a YouTube corporate media advertising clickbait views and subscriber millionaire Millennial fool along with all of his Logan Paul’s followers.

  8. Roma
    0

    As a mother of a 16 year who killed himself last holiday season – I have a stomachache and my heart is aching right now. I guess he can “giggle” about that too..

    • sanemkore
      0

      Very sorry for your loss.

    • Christian
      0

      The elephant in the room is, how it took YouTube SOOOO long to take down the video…..(even though, “HE” purportedly took it down himself, but “THEY” should have taken it down WAY EARLIER!)….

  9. Elmo
    0

    Youtube has become the place where the insane, criminals, terrorist, social degenerates gather and his viewer base just proves that. Youtube also is responsible for causing this behavior as it is too complicated to quickly have a video removed. I picture his fan base as adult losers sitting in mommies basement all day typing on a computer and playing games. On top of his current bad behavior, he’s now trying to lie his way out of what he did which was not to raise awareness for suicides but to raise awareness so his sick fans could laugh at this deceased young man. Pepsi/HBO/all other sponsors would be wise to end their ties with this social degenerate man right now before he maybe starts calling in swat calls that get people killed.

  10. rickle
    0

    Youtube is supporting logan. They helped his video trend.

  11. Charlott Land
    0

    The video was highly reported, manually reviewed by YouTube, and YouTube placed it on the trending page. They didn’t even slap an age limit on it. Logan and Jake are their golden boys right now and YouTube is working frantically to save the Paul brothers from completely sinking in their controversies. When there’s nothing else YouTube executives can do, they will let them sink, walk away whistling, with their hands in their pockets, looking for the next big thing. They do this all the time. There is no doubt… YouTube is a company of favoritism.

  12. Emilee
    0

    Most disliked youtubers:
    1. Logan Paul
    2. Nicole Arbour
    3. Elliott Rodger

  13. Tam Li
    0

    When Logan uploaded the suicide prevention video, I got into a mini argument with somebody in the comments. They said that he made one mistake, but the only difference between his mistake and us making a mistake, is his was viewed by millions of people, that there were real crimes happening and that we need to forget it and move on. I saw so many people, especially young people, supporting him and giving in to his fake apology. Most of his fans aren’t seeing any issue with what he did, but what he did cannot be forgiven. They also said the only mistake he made was in the suicide forest, but he was disrespecting and mocking the Japanese culture the second he started vlogging in Japan. The suicide forest wasn’t the only place he disrespected people, it was the entire time he was there. Not only that, but when you have such a young fanbase, you don’t do shit like that. “Well he’s never seen a dead body before, people react differently to these things” Alright, but what the hell do you think was going to his mind while editing the video to make him think it was remotely okay to leave the jokes and the victim in? He hasn’t been punished so now his fans who fully support what he did are going to think it’s okay to do this.

  14. Join
    0

    The whole thing just makes me feel so sad and sick. Sharing this article because of it’s importance to today’s society.

  15. elinanie
    0

    I think Logan Paul wasn’t fully aware about the consequences, he didn’t intentionally record it just to gain views. As to slightly cover the dreadful scene after exploiting a dead person to the camera, he probably assumed safety through making a motivational speech about people with depression at the end of the video, but only to get backfired with criticism. Let’s just say he forgot to turn off the stove, and left the entire neighborhood burning.

  16. Tooner
    0

    Logan Paul makes us Americans look bad, we are friendly, funny, and cool people. I always liked Japan because of its art and people. Logan Paul ruined that and decided to go out as Pikachu and throws pokemon balls at random people, and even breaks a toy on the ground and shows it to the cashier and say: “It’s broken.” And next, he decided to go to the suicide forest and record a dead person, who the fuck does that!?! This guy clearly wanted to have more views and money. He use that dead body as fame or even a puppet who makes him money! Other countries hates us Americans, and Logan Paul made us look bad EVEN worst! And the girl at the background was ‘trying’ to hide her laugh when they were filiming a dead body. If I found the dead body I would have turned off my camera and called the authorities. Logan is such a huge disrespect to Japan. I hope one day he moves to North Korea and stays there! He was massively a huge disrespect! Those family members were probably sobbing on the floor, and was probably mad at Logan Paul for filming the body. I didn’t bother writing comments at this kind of time but my school STILL talks about this issue. My friends use to love Logan Paul now they hate him and unsubbed him. I hate team 10 and always will!!!

  17. SEAL
    0

    YouTube is still allowing this idiot on, have adverts?? The best channels I watch are awesome but are making next to nothing because they are being demonized.

  18. Errol Farias
    0

    Read my mind.

  19. WAITT
    0

    I think if YouTube doesnt do something ill get off all together. The two facedness of YouTube is becoming apparent.

  20. Reggie
    0

    Logan Paul! My friends are defending him saying he made a apology video yeah he did but he bragged in it they just defend him all the time after I actually make sense and give a good reason really? Come on he laughed and showed a dead body on camera he didn’t right away call someone he showed the dead body and joked around and stuff my friends say yeah after that he called people but really? After he laughed and joked are your just going to defend him cause after he called someone why did didn’t he do it right away.

  21. Livia
    0

    It’s interesting that YouTube hardly made an attempt to do anything against that Logan Paul’s video at first but look at how quickly they are working to put forward the motion on banning videos with free speech

  22. roy
    0

    Anyone who still supports the Paul brothers, and is above the age of 12… well, you need to grow up.

  23. I always thought the brothers were idiot rich playboys. This video didn’t surprise me, but it did make me appalled that they were even allowed on YouTube.

  24. I think what I find the most interesting about this is how these problems with YouTube are also being co-opted by the Alt-Right/White Supremacists, who can play to this “tasteless” card and argue for awful ideas.

    While this is old news, Logan Paul’s antics are endemic of a larger issue.

  25. My question here, as it was when I first heard about Logan’s controversial video is: how many of us actually watched the video? At the end of the day Youtube is Youtube because of its viewers, and Logan Paul gets exactly that: viewership and A LOT of it. Once the controversy of this video was out people who dont even watch vlogs went to watch this one even though the description reported was enough to understand the immorality of Logan’s decision to film and upload the video. So sure, we can talk about rules and censorship but remember, Youtube is Youtube because of its viewers. What is it about videos like these that makes us, as viewers, so curious to watch?

  26. There is no doubt that Logan Paul’s actions were reckless and disrespectful, not only to the deceased, but to everyone in general and those who work constantly to raise awareness on mental health and help others going through difficult times. YouTube itself is demonstrating incompetence to have any respect for users and viewers by not having put down the video themselves, and not having a more firm action dealing with Logan Paul’s video upload. This also demonstrates that YouTube and advertising companies will support anyone who can earn them huge amounts of revenue, which shows that perhaps a new hiring process should be made for online personalities and actors/actresses.

    When we post a photo or video on the internet, we cannot assume it is not going to affect anyone. It can have both positive and negative consequences for both viewers and the person who posted it. Logan Paul should have taken a step back and thought, “Would I be fine if someone else films me this way?” As a psychology college professor once told me during an interview; it is recommended to ask yourself, “Will this enhance my life and my relationships, or will this potentially feed into negativity?”. It is your job (i.e., it was Logan Paul’s job) to decide what to film and who to share it with, as well think about respecting others.

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