High-profile YouTuber Logan Paul is learning that filming suicide victims hanging from trees, and posting the footage online, isn’t always a good idea.
A week after Paul’s December 31 video showing the body of someone who had apparently taken their own life in Aokigahara, also known as Japan’s “suicide forest,” and a day after YouTube finally responded with a statement of its own on the incident, the Google-owned company has moved to reduce ties with the 22-year-old vlogger.
Action includes being taken off Google Preferred, YouTube’s premium ad program that gives brands access to popular channels like Paul’s, which has more than 15 million subscribers. It’s not clear, however, if he’s still part of YouTube’s Partner Program that enables creators with more than 10,000 channel views to make money from a broader range of advertisers.
YouTube said it’s also put on hold a number of projects it had lined up for the Hollywood-based vlogger, and canceled his part in season four of Foursome and several new Originals.
Paul started his YouTube channel in 2015, promising his subscribers – many of whom are believed to be under 18 – “crazy” content, as he describes it in his YouTube notes. His videos do indeed aim to be entertaining and upbeat, but the forest video, which shows a shocked Paul but also he and friends joking around, is clearly out of place compared to his regular output.
Paul initially claimed the video served to highlight mental health issues, but this seemingly weak excuse only resulted in increased criticism.
YouTube took its time to respond, finally posting a message on Twitter this week. “Suicide is not a joke, nor should it ever be a driving force for views,” the video site said, adding, “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 admitted it’d taken a long time to make a public statement, but insisted it’s 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.”
In an apology posted on YouTube on January 2, Paul said he wanted to apologize to the internet and to anyone who saw the video, adding, “I want to apologize to anyone who’s been affected or touched by mental illness or depression or suicide, but most importantly, I want to apologize to the victim and his family.”