The Logan Paul Controversy

Logan Paul was one of the most popular creators on the six second video sharing app, Vine. When Vine shut down in January 2017 due to competition from other social media apps such as Instagram, and lack of ad revenue, Viner Logan Paul looked to Youtube as his next step in the journey to becoming an Internet celebrity. Paul is a self proclaimed “vlogger” who posts video blogs, or vlogs, to his Youtube channel, “Logan Paul Vlogs.” Paul has amassed over 20 million subscribers (the “Logang”) to date on both of his official Youtube channels. The Logang is comprised of mainly tweens from the ages of nine to twelve. The Logang and Logan’s entourage of other like-minded social media sensations are quick to defend Paul’s name on all platforms of social media, as well as to praise Paul for his every action. Logan Paul had never faced criticism from the people closest to him, and his oblivion ended up being his biggest flaw.

In the last few days of December 2017, Logan Paul and his entourage consisting of Andy Altig, Melissa Marquez, and Brendan North traveled to Japan. In Logan’s now-deleted video titled, “We Found a Dead Body in the Japanese Suicide Forest,” Logan visited Aokigahara Forest, also known as Suicide Forest, with the intent to film an entertaining video of himself frolicking about the forest for his fans. The Suicide Forest is the second-most popular place in the world to commit suicide (the first being the Golden Gate Bridge). The thumbnail to Logan’s video posted on December 31, 2017 depicted a shocked Logan Paul photoshopped into the foreground of an image of a dead man hanging from a tree in the Suicide Forest. Many assumed that Paul’s thumbnail was “clickbait,” or a way of lying to viewers to gain more views (number of times a video has been watched). This was not the case.

In the video, Logan Paul and his friends veer off the trail in the Suicide Forest and encounter what appears to be a man who hanged himself in the forest, hidden behind a poorly placed blur to censor the man’s face. In the vlog, Logan Paul and his entourage seemed shocked, some laughing awkwardly to themselves and toward the camera. Logan Paul continues to point in the man’s direction, and Paul’s cameraman proceeds to film the dead body. When Paul leaves the forest in the vlog, he tells one of the officers in the parking lot that a dead body was found. The officer tells Paul that he was not allowed to walk off the trail in the forest, as there are many signs that warn the public that a dead body might be encountered. Logan acts shocked for a few minutes before greeting a member of the Logang further into the forest parking lot.

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Paul posted the video to his channel by prefacing that the video was not to be monetized (advertisements would not be added to the video) out of respect for the man; Paul also said he wanted to raise awareness of mental illness. Paul ended his monologue preceding the vlog footage by saying, “This definitely marks a moment in Youtube history… Buckle the f**k up, because you’re never going to see a video like this again.” Logan Paul acted as if this vlog was revolutionary because of the controversial footage he captured. The reason this video was the first of its kind is that most big Youtubers have enough common sense to know not to post a video exploiting suicide and mental illness for their own growth on the platform.

Logan Paul posted this vlog because he thought it would bring more positive attention to his name. No one in his team of friends, cameramen, editors, or managers, who presumably watched the video before it went live to his Youtube channel, told Logan that posting a video with such sensitive and graphic material was ill advised. Paul’s entourage never criticizes him, because Logan is popular and brings attention to their content.

After Paul posted his vlog, there was public outcry against the vlog. Many called for Youtube to delete Paul’s video, and some went so far as to demand that the platform delete Paul’s channel. Paul deleted his video after it had received over 6 million views due to the disapproving tweets and news reports hurled towards him. Paul tweeted a written apology that was not well-received due to the insincerity of the text, and the humble bragging that was included (“I didn’t do it for the views. I get views.”). Youtube remained silent on the topic until January 9, 2018 when it released a statement which said that Logan Paul’s future Youtube Red projects will be placed on hold (including his full length feature “The Thinning: New World Order”). Youtube Red is a paid streaming subscription service with exclusive content for its members. Paul was also removed from the Google Preferred program. The Google Preferred program gives Youtube’s most popular creators the ability to make more revenue off their videos through premium advertisers. On January 16, 2018, Youtube announced that Google Preferred will now have an increased vetting process. Every video submitted for Google Preferred will be manually inspected to ensure that it is family-friendly, so videos like Logan Paul’s “We Found a Dead Body in the Japanese Suicide Forest” will not slip past the Youtube viewing algorithm again.

In wake of the backlash to his video, Logan Paul has decided to take a break from posting daily vlogs. Despite the public criticism, his Youtube channel is still going strong. In the last 30 days, he has gained over 1.3 million subscribers on his vlog channel. Logan’s other vlogs on his channel are still monetized and he continues to make thousands of dollars every day off of his video content and popular clothing brand “Maverick by Logan Paul” which sells to the Logang. Logan Paul has taken a hiatus from social media since the controversial video, but his continued success proves true the old saying, “Any publicity is good publicity.”

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