In the past year, the content-sharing website YouTube has revamped its policies to be stricter on what can be uploaded, said in videos, etc. Unfortunately, many have reacted to this by saying that the system doesn’t catch everything, and in this case, YouTube failed. For example, one of YouTube’s most popular uploaders, Logan Paul, posted a video on the website for which many criticized both him for uploading and YouTube for not catching sooner.
Logan Paul is a vlogger who uploads his daily life with videos usually at least 10 minutes long. With over 15 million subscribers, it is clear that Paul has a large audience that is also very young and impressionable.
Recently, Paul has been posting videos on his trip to Japan with his vlogging crew. Last week, Paul explored the very famous forest named Aokigahara, also widely known as “The Sea of Trees” or “The Suicide Forest.” While Paul was in Japan, he led his vlog to explore the forest, where he showed a body hanging from a tree by rope in the video. After witnessing the body, one of Paul’s friends says that he doesn’t “feel very good,” and Paul replies, “you never stand next to a dead guy?” before laughing.
Aokigahara has a historical reputation as being known in Japan as a “home for the dead.” Many know it as a place that the helpless go to commit suicide, which is why the trails are littered with signs encouraging that this is not the end, think of your family, and so on. In 2003, 105 bodies were found in the forest, exceeding 78 in 2002. In 2010, the police recorded more than 200 people had attempted suicide in the forest, of whom 54 completed the act. Suicides are usually said to increase during March, the end of the fiscal year in Japan. Suicides in this forest are usually done by overdose or hanging.
Paul’s video was up on the website for hours before the video was taken down. He has since apologized, saying he meant to “raise awareness for suicide awareness,” though many viewers and non-viewers have not accepted it.
Contributors to the website have also commented about Paul’s actions, and YouTube’s monetizing of the video even though it is against their policies.
YouTube has since apologized and confirmed with CNN Tech that they recognize that the video should have been taken down much sooner:
“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.”
YouTube has given its policies a makeover in the past year. The company’s guidelines clearly state that it is not okay to post violent or gory content that is primarily intended to be shocking, sensational, or gratuitous. In addition, if a video is particularly graphic or disturbing, it should be balanced with additional context and information. This raises an important question: if the policies stated this, why was the video up so long?
To answer the question, it most likely came down to money. It is no secret that both Logan and his brother, Jake (who has 12 million subscribers to Logan’s 15 million), make huge amounts of money for themselves and the platform on which they upload. In addition, both of them have young audiences that consume their content so much that it makes YouTube big dollars.
Both Paul brothers have young audiences, and this video had an impression on young minds is devastating. Hopefully, Logan and his brother will both take a lesson away from this and refrain from repeating the mistake due to this situation. As for YouTube, the process for reviewing and monetizing videos needs to be reassessed. Here is to hoping that this changes soon and YouTube becomes a better and safer place for young viewers.