YouTube has become an internet phenomenon over the past decade, surpassing other popular video sites like Daily Motion by a large motion.
Their purchase by Google, their implementation of the AdSense program, and their continued overhauling of search algorithms have all been important steps in making the site the hit that it is today. Of course, these achievements have not come without controversies.
YouTube has seen more than its fair share of questionable moments. Everything ranging from the overhauling of ads and the half-broken system that chooses ‘advertiser friendly’ content has caused the site to get mixed reactions from users, analysts, and investors.
But given their huge reach, it is admirable that the site has taken steps to remove offensive content and deal with situations that warranted public backlash. This is exactly what happened with Logan Paul, a YouTube star who just received a harsh punishment following a very controversial video.
The YouTube mega star uploaded a video on the last day of 2017, showing himself exploring the Aokigahara forest in Japan. The area is considered one of the most ghastly and haunting locations on earth. As its nickname (the suicide forest) suggests, the location is known for an unusually high rate of individuals ending their own lives.
Paul found a dead body hanging from a tree, and elected to film the scene. Though the deceased man’s face was blurred out, Paul provided numerous close ups and even showed the body still had a wallet in the back pocket.
Despite not monetizing the video and making it viewable only by users age 18 and older, Paul faced widespread condemnation from fellow YouTube stars like PewDiePie, Keemstar, jackscepticeye, and more.
YouTube has stated they have policies against violent or gory content put up for shock value, though the exact definitions of these terms are subject to a bit of ambiguity. There are many laws and customs around the world designed to protect the identities and privacy of the deceased. This is the root cause of the controversy, and it seems Paul will not escape unscathed.
The company will not move forward with a planned movie featuring Paul, which was set to be a sequel to his previous release. His original content is now on hold, and he was removed from both Google Preferred and the top tier of Google’s ad program.
Paul isn’t the first YouTube star to find himself in hot water over his content. PewDiePie was accused of promoting anti-Semitic content, and ended up losing out on promotional deals and seeing his own shows get cancelled.
YouTube hasn’t always been praised for their decisions to take action against controversial content. They’ve been accused of going too far in the other direction and even stifling their website in a lot of ways. But with a serious issue like the one present in the Logan Paul situation, the site had no choice but to take extreme action. Logan has apologized, saying he never intended to create so much controversy.