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YouTube acts against controversial online star Logan Paul

Video platform targets Logan Paul's revenue stream by suspending ads on his channels

It appears some people just do not learn.

YouTube has taken controversial content creator Logan Paul to task yet again, two weeks after the American released an apologetic video claiming that he had changed his ways.

Last month, Paul was heavily criticised for uploading a video showing the body of an apparent suicide victim in Japan's infamous Aokigahara forest, a notorious suicide spot near Mount Fuji.

In the video which garnered millions of views before it was removed, Paul could be seen laughing at the body.

Amid the backlash last month, YouTube took the video down, suspended Paul's lucrative YouTube Red paid projects, and removed him as a "preferred ad partner", which blocked him from top-tier advertisers.

Social analytics firm Social Blade estimates that Paul was earning somewhere between US$450,000 ($598,000) and US$1.2 million per month in ad revenue.

After a three-week hiatus for the man who was posting a video a day, Paul returned to YouTube, uploading a slick video on suicide awareness. His seven-minute video saw him interviewing suicide survivors and therapists.

Logan Paul was back posting videos after a three-week absence following outrage over his post of a suicide victim. But his latest shenanigans did not go down well with YouTube.
Logan Paul was back posting videos after a three-week absence following outrage over his post of a suicide victim. But his latest shenanigans did not go down well with YouTube. PHOTO: YOUTUBE, TWITTER

"It's time to start a new chapter in my life," he said in the clip that was watched close to 30 million times.

But his contrition was short-lived and he quickly reverted back to creating controversial content for the sake of views.

Logan Paul was back posting videos after a three-week absence following outrage over his post of a suicide victim. But his latest shenanigans did not go down well with YouTube.

In videos he uploaded since his return, Paul tasered two dead rats multiple times, and removed a live fish from a pond to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

In videos he uploaded since his return, Paul Tasered two dead rats multiple times, and removed a live fish from a pond to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

He bragged that he had gained one million subscribers during his absence and encouraged his fans to buy his merchandise to make up for the shortfall in ad revenue.

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He bragged that he had gained one million subscribers during his absence and encouraged his fans to buy his merchandise to make up for the shortfall in ad revenue.

On Feb 5, he tweeted that he would swallow a laundry detergent pod in an Internet "challenge". The tweet has since been deleted.

YouTube, it seems, has had enough as well. On Friday, it temporarily suspended ads on his YouTube channels.

A spokesman said: "This is not a decision we made lightly. However, we believe he has exhibited a pattern of behaviour in his videos that makes his channel not only unsuitable for advertisers but also potentially damaging to the broader creator community."

Some say the platform has finally hit Paul where it hurts most - his revenue stream.

Others think it is a move long overdue, saying Paul had uploaded similarly controversial content in the past, with few repercussions.

Critics say that while YouTube has guidelines for the content on its platform, it seems to enforce them only when public outrage makes the news.

Popular YouTuber Philip Defranco admits that the platform's action against Paul is a "massive move", but said more transparency is needed on the specific policies guiding such decisions.

While Paul still seems to have millions of fans, there is also a growing number of people who believe his channel should be taken down.

A petition for YouTube to erase his presence has gained more than half a million signatories.

There is no doubt that tech giants like Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube, have a tough job balancing profits and policing content.

But a dialogue on such ethical issues is surely a good start.

DISTURBING CONTENT ON CHAT APPS

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as the adage goes.

 

This has proven true in a recent trend on Facebook's chat feature Messenger, where users shared a disturbing video of a man committing a sex act with a minor.

In a misguided and poorly thought-out campaign, thousands of users believed that sharing such disturbing content would enable law enforcement officials to identify the perpetrator.

But they did not know distributing child pornography is illegal, and sharing such material to stop the act is still, in essence, spreading the content.

In Michigan, United States, a few law representatives described the spread of the video as a "nationwide epidemic".

News site Vox has offered several reasons why the video gained traction.

Besides Facebook users sharing the video in the belief that justice will be done, some people may have distributed the content without first thoroughly examining the issues involved.

The authorities can only do so much. Social media users have to make a conscious effort to increase their media literacy, be accountable for what they share and develop an ability to discern the truth from a lie.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 11, 2018, with the headline 'YouTube acts against controversial online star'. Print Edition | Subscribe