A ‘contact’ at YouTube released an official statement to popular YouTuber Philip DeFranco this morning regarding the controversy surrounding Logan Paul’s now infamous video featuring him with standing in-frame with a person who allegedly committed suicide in Japan’s Aokigahara forest:
The video was removed by Paul himself, rather than deleted by YouTube, and YouTube’s statement seems to indicate the video didn’t technically violate their terms of service as it wasn’t particularly graphic or gruesome in nature – though it was certainly disrespectful. The statement could be perceived to be ‘hedging bets’, and interpreted as YouTube saying they didn’t take action as the video wasn’t particularly shocking or graphic, so it was ‘okay’.
Safe to say, the reaction was…not positive. It is worth noting this was a statement released directly to DeFranco, and a more robust and specific statement will likely be coming in the future from YouTube and we might possibly see updated policy guidelines as well.
The video, designed to ‘raise awareness’ for suicide prevention, became an instant and massive story on New Year’s Day eve. In the video Paul states he wanted to focus on the ‘haunted’ aspect of the forest, and after discovering (and filming) the body, stated that people should seek help if they suicidal. Regardless of his intend, the video was met with understandable outrage, and Paul ultimately released an apology on Twitter.
The Aokigahara forest is often referred to as ‘The Sea of Trees’ and has been the home to over a hundred suicides a year. It’s become something of a morbid tourist destination, as the forest is considered haunted and eerie.
With 15 Million subscribers and millions upon millions of video views, Paul is massively influential on the platform; Winning multiple Teen Choice awards in 2017, and starring in the ‘Gamer Gate’ episode of Law & Order: SVU, as well as writing screen plays and starring in the YouTube Red show ‘The Thinning’. His brother, YouTuber Jake Paul, is no stranger to controversy – as Paul made his home address public to his YouTube subscribers, resulting in chaos for the neighborhood and public nuisance complaints.
YouTube generally reviews, polices, demonetizes and deletes videos based on a proprietary algorithm – which has come under fire in recent months for playing partisan favorites and demonetizing videos considered harmless by general audiences.
However, within the past few weeks YouTube began focusing on, and cracking down on particularly creepy content involving children in peril and sexualized images of child-favorite characters. They deleted upwards of 150,000 videos.
For now, it seems there’s work to be done. YouTube didn’t delete Paul’s video, even after the outrage raged on – Paul beating them to the proverbial punch. The question is why YouTube didn’t delete, and the statement from YouTube may explain the policy, but many people are expecting more.