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YouTube takes a stand in Logan Paul controversy, but is it enough

Logan Paul.jpg

YouTube has finally decided to take a stand in the Logan Paul suicide video controversy, but before we discuss if the punishment is fitting, let's run through what happened for the sake of those who avoided the Internet during the holiday season. Also, what has PewDiePie to do with all this?

Logan Paul's YouTube channel currently has 15,733,564 subscribers and 3,051,962,141 views. He is a vlogger from Hollywood and mostly uploads Jackass-style stunts to amuse his subscribers.

Logan Paul - The controversy

On December 31, Paul uploads a video of himself and his friends visiting Japan's Aokigahara forest; it is also known as Japan's suicide forest. In the video, he shows one such suicide and expresses shock but also made flippant comments about it ("Buckle the f#$k up, because you’re never gonna see a video like this again"). He also used the image of the dead body as the thumbnail (face blurred), and so on. He uploaded the video without an age gate (later added) and broke several YouTube policies upon its release ("It’s not okay to post violent or gory content that’s primarily intended to be shocking, sensational, or gratuitous.")

Remember, his followers are mostly teens - he later did add the appropriate age gate, but not after the video received millions of views. He also eventually removed the video and issued an apology via YouTube and Twitter, explaining that he had "a lapse in judgement."

The incident was made worse by Paul uploading several more video's from his Japan visit (which is still live), showing a series of pranks and general idiotic behaviour while visiting the country. Japanese culture is fiercely private and respectful, and it is clear that Paul blatantly disregarded those social boundaries for YouTube hits. He evens states it at the beginning of one of these videos - that he must respect their culture. Controversy pays when you're a YouTuber.

His video, "Kicked out of Japan" is filled with comments saying things like don't ever come to [country]. Most of the comments side with the argument that Paul has gone too far. Several YouTube personalities have also spoken out again Paul. Enters PewDiePie.

PewDiePie states in his video how outrageous he is about Paul's Japan series, and that he would never do such things (in real-life). He pulls his pranks and is only sometimes an idiot online, and that makes it all better. He also highlights the complete idiocy of Paul's videos in general. Can't argue with him about that.

Logan Paul - YouTube takes action

PewDiePie's video, however, does highlight a good point (he gets "into a lot more sh1t for a lot less") and brings us to this discussion. Is YouTube's punishment of Logan Paul - and by implication all YouTubers who break policy; fair? 

It took YouTube days to act against Paul. Their open letter via Twitter was only released eight days after the video was first published. Paul was also the one who eventually added the age gate, not YouTube. The 'suicide video' reached the number 10 spot on trending before it was removed. Eight days is forever in terms of Internet time.

Two days ago, YouTube finally announced their official punishment again Paul:

  • Paul's YouTube Red movie, The Thinning: New World Order, has been placed on hold
  • Paul will not feature in season 4 of YouTube's "Foursome"
  • Paul's "Originals" also placed on hold
  • Paul's channels removed from Google Preferred

PewDiePie received much the same punishment after the anti-Semitic debacle. Being removed from Google Preferred is a big deal for YouTubers as it has a direct monetary implication. Placing a hold on all Paul's YouTube Red projects is also costing him a lot of revenue. For once, the joke's on him.

What I do have an issue with, is that it took YouTube over a week to respond to the issue when it clearly violated its most serious user agreements. According to Polygon, it was also Paul who eventually placed the age gate on the video - not YouTube. But why was the video allowed to run for the period it did? It should've been removed sooner.

"When you use YouTube, you join a community of people from all over the world. Every cool, new community feature on YouTube involves a certain level of trust. Millions of users respect that trust and we trust you to be responsible too," reads the opening lines on YouTube's Policies page.

YouTube encourages viewers to use the reporting system to flag inappropriate content - which people clearly did in Paul's case as his video violated several of the platforms most important policies. Yet, YouTube allowed his video to run, it reached number 10 on trending for goodness sake!

Besides acting sooner, what more can YouTube do when it comes to vloggers who so blatantly use the platform to gain hits (and revenue) while posting harmful or abusive content. Cutting off their revenue is definitely the best action, and I don't know that YouTube can do more, besides adding a period-based ban on a channel and blocking a channel completely.

What say our readers and YouTubers? Could YouTube do more, is Paul's punishment fitting, and do you feel they handled the whole situation properly?

YouTube can on any given day be the best or the worst thing about the Internet, and governing such a beast cannot be an easy task. However, I have long argued that there should be consequences for bad online behaviour and that it shouldn't be a space where anything goes. For me, the Internet is a real place, much like a country, and as such, it needs laws to govern its citizens.

It's easier said than done, and Internet freedom is a sacred thing. This is a topic that deserves a lot more debate, and we plan to do just that in a series of upcoming articles. For now, let's hear your thoughts on the subject. I asked GameZone's Editor and YouTube manager, Coco, to start by giving his feedback.

"We as YouTube creators have a responsibility to create content and deliver information to the public. While YouTube is the best place on the internet to do this it is also the worst place too. Just because you can, does not mean you have to and in this case, that information delivered was disgusting. I feel that YouTube should start fining these creators who think they are above the law and think they can get away with everything just because they have a following. It is an abuse of power and considering that everyone has access to this makes it even worse."

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