Looks like a certain 22-year-old celebrity vlogger will face formal consequences after all. The YouTube millionaire landed in hot water on New Year's Eve when he uploaded a video of his trip to Japan's Aokigahara Forest. The video showed the dead body of an apparent suicide victim, prompting an immense backlash from critics who called the publicity stunt insensitive and tasteless. Although he has since apologized, people demanded punitive justice and called on YouTube to remove his channel. His channel is still up and running, but YouTube announced it's cutting ties with Logan Paul — to a certain extent.
A YouTube representative told media outlets on Thursday that the company removed Paul's channels from the Google Preferred program, which allows brands to sell ads alongside the top 5 percent of YouTube content. It's not surprising that YouTube and Google would not want to compromise their relationship with advertisers, who are probably not too thrilled to appear with Paul's vlogs.
That's not the only revenue stream Paul will lose. YouTube announced it will not feature Paul in season four of Foursome, a romantic comedy web series that's available on the platform's subscription service, YouTube Red. The company will also put his original projects on hold. Paul was supposed to star in a YouTube Red movie The Thinning: New World Order, a sequel to his 2016 dystopian future thriller The Thinning.
Despite YouTube's limitations, Paul will still be able to post content on YouTube and monetize his videos. His channel has more than 15 million subscribers, many of whom are kids and young teens. He and his brother Jake Paul, another social media celebrity, are worth an estimated $11.5 million each.
Paul's supposed "do anything for the views" attitude has opened a larger discussion about how much control YouTube has over containing its content, and whether it's holding users accountable for inappropriate content. Paul's video earned him a "strike" for violating YouTube's Community Guidelines, which bans graphic content. His now removed video, titled "We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest..." showed Paul and his friends checking out a corpse hanging from a tree. To Paul's minor credit, he issued a warning at the start of the video, blurred the victim's face, included the numbers of several suicide hotlines, and demonetized the video so he wouldn't make money from it.
His efforts seemed to contradict the video itself, though, which featured close ups of the dead body and him excitedly telling viewers to "buckle the f*ck up, because you’re never gonna see a video like this again!” Some people also pointed out that Paul's past videos suggested he had little respect for Japanese culture during his trip to Japan.
The video went viral and garnered more than 6.3 million views and 600,000 comments before it was taken offline amid the intense uproar. After Paul posted a video apology, he tweeted that he was "taking time to reflect." YouTube also issued an open apology, which ended in the following statements:
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.
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.
Many complained YouTube's apology was a non-apology that didn't hold Paul responsible for his actions. The company's move to remove him from Google Preferred advertising and from original projects doesn't look like it's enough for critics who want him completely removed, but it's a step toward accountability.