YouTube cuts ties with Logan Paul, promising to evolve in the wake of suicide video backlash


YouTube has finally taken action in response to sustained backlash over YouTube star Logan Paul’s decision to publish footage of a suicide victim whose body he encountered while visiting Japan’s Aokigahara Forest during a controversial trip to the country.

In a rare lengthy statement posted to its Twitter account this week — a follow-up to a shorter statement released after the incident occurred — YouTube apologized to its user community and promised that changes are on the way, implying that “further consequences” against Paul would be forthcoming.


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Those changes have so far included the company’s decision to formally distance itself from Paul: On Wednesday, a YouTube spokesperson announced that the platform will strip Paul’s videos from its top-tier monetization system. Additionally, YouTube has canceled plans to produce a new film starring Paul, and he will not appear in the upcoming season of a YouTube Red series in which he previously starred.

Paul’s Aokigahara Forest video, which contained images of him and several members of his video crew laughing and reacting to their “shocking” discovery of a dead body — in a place that’s notoriously nicknamed the “suicide forest” — reportedly trended on YouTube’s list of top videos for more than 24 hours before Paul decided to delete it. During that time, many YouTube users repeatedly flagged the video for deletion through the site’s content moderation system, to no avail; uproar ensued.

In its latest statement, YouTube did not address its failure to remove the video through moderation. Instead, it noted that it had ultimately levied a content strike against Paul’s account, stating, “The channel violated our community guidelines, we acted accordingly, and we are looking at further consequences.”

Here’s the full statement:

An open letter to our community:

Many of you have been frustrated with our lack of communication recently. You’re right to be. You deserve to know what’s going on.

— YouTube (@YouTube) January 9, 2018

Like many others, we were upset by the video that was shared last week.

— YouTube (@YouTube) January 9, 2018

Suicide is not a joke, nor should it ever be a driving force for views. As Anna Akana put it perfectly: “That body was a person someone loved. You do not walk into a suicide forest with a camera and claim mental health awareness.”

— YouTube (@YouTube) January 9, 2018

We expect more of the creators who build their community on @YouTube, as we’re sure you do too. The channel violated our community guidelines, we acted accordingly, and we are looking at further consequences.

— YouTube (@YouTube) January 9, 2018

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.

— YouTube (@YouTube) January 9, 2018

In addition to posting the statement on Twitter, a YouTube spokesperson stated in an emailed press release that the company had not only removed Paul from its exclusive Google Preferred advertising tier but also dropped him from the upcoming fourth season of the YouTube Red series Foursome and halted production of Paul’s films in its “Originals” category, including the upcoming sequel to YouTube Red’s first feature-length thriller, a dystopian sci-fi called The Thinning.

“Our hearts go out to the family of the person featured in the video,” the statement read. “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.”

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