YouTube Won't Hold Logan Paul Accountable, But His Fans Can
The former Vine star is under fire for 'sensationalizing suicide' by posting footage of a dead body.
Logan Paul found his audience on now defunct video platform, Vine, which shut down in 2017. After transitioning to YouTube, the 22-year-old amassed an audience of 15 million. His antics — dangerous stunts, enormous suburban parties, impromptu meet-ups with fans he calls his "Logang," and various short-lived acting roles — brought in young viewers by the droves. But as we ring in 2018, everyone finally seems to agree he's gone too far.
On New Year's Eve, Paul posted video footage of a dead body — a man who'd apparently died by suicide in Japan's Aokigahara forest. Despite Paul's assurance that he was shocked by the sight, he chose to film the man, who was hanging from a tree. Later, he said the footage made "YouTube history."
"I’m pretty sure that this has never hopefully happened to anyone on YouTube ever,” he stated at the time. "Now with that said, buckle up." He went on to yell, "Yo, are you alive?" at the deceased after laughing about it with his friends.
It was only after Paul was condemned by fans and celebrities alike that he removed the video. Actor Aaron Paul, known for Breaking Bad, wrote a particularly biting tweet condemning the footage.
"Suicide is not a joke," the actor wrote. "Go rot in hell."
Paul went on to issue an apology, claiming he meant for the video to have a positive impact.
"I intended to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention..." Paul wrote, going on to say "it's easy to get caught up in the moment without fully recognizing the possible ramifications..."
Paul's behavior is shameful, but perhaps even more concerning is YouTube's lackluster response. As reported by multiple outlets, the platform did not remove the content itself, instead blocking it for viewers younger than 18 in a practice called "age-gating." To add insult to injury, the video made YouTube's coveted "top trending" category in the brief time between its release and removal, giving it top exposure.
Here is YouTube's statement on the matter, made directly to another prominent creator, Philip DeFranco:
“Our hearts go out to the family of the person featured in the video. YouTube prohibits violent or gory content posted in a shocking, sensational or disrespectful manner. 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. We partner with safety groups such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to provide educational resources that are incorporated in our YouTube Safety Center."
Many twitterers sounded off on the issue, calling out the platform for failing to protect the suicide victim, let alone its own users.
It seems platforms like YouTube won't always make the integrity move — especially where lucrative creators like Paul are concerned. Until that changes, it may fall on fans and viewers to hold them accountable.