Vlogging megastar Logan Paul has released yet another apology on social media following widespread criticism over a video he released in which discovered the body of a man who had just hung himself.
Paul was filming one of his daily vlogs at the Japanese forest Aokigahara, a well-known suicide site. The YouTube star and a couple of his friends decided it would be funny to camp out in the forest for a night while filming their experience.
They titled the video: “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest.”
As the group trekked through the undergrowth, they came across a man who was hanging from a tree. “Did we just find a dead person in the suicide forest?” Paul said to the camera, openly laughing about the situation. “This was supposed to be a fun vlog.”
A member of the group is heard remarking that he “doesn’t feel good.” Paul replies: “What, you never stand next to a dead guy?” before laughing out loud.
“His hands are purple, he did it this morning,” Paul added, as he zoomed in on the dead body.
“If you guys haven’t noticed, I cope with things by humor. While this is incredibly sad, I’ve said it thousands of times.. this is crazy.”
The backlash was immediate. Social media erupted with fury and thousands called for Paul to apologize. He responded quickly, issuing a written statement via Twitter. The former “Vine” star claimed that he was seeking to raise awareness of mental health issues; an excuse that didn’t wash with his critics.
When my brother found my sister’s body, he screamed with horror & confusion & grief & tried to save her. That body was a person someone loved.
You do not walk into a suicide forest with a camera and claim mental health awareness.
— Anna Akana (@AnnaAkana) January 2, 2018
Paul’s first attempt at an apology included the line:
“I do this shit every day. I made a 15 minute TV show EVERY SINGLE DAY for the past 460+ days.”
He added: “One may understand that it’s easy to get caught up in the moment without fully weighing up the ramifications. I’m often reminded of how big a reach I truly have and which great power comes great responsibility… for the first time in my life I’m regretful to say I handled that power incorrectly. It won’t happen again.”
Unsurprisingly, the outrage continued. Now over 60,000 people have signed a petition to have Paul’s YouTube channel removed. A new person is adding their name to the petition every 20 seconds or so.
The Vlogger currently boasts around 15 million subscribers, but that number is tumbling by the second.
“I have made a severe and continuous lapse in my judgment, and I don’t expect to be forgiven,” he said in a video apology posted to Twitter. He added:
“I should have never posted the video. I should have put the cameras down and stopped recording what we were going through. There’s a lot of things I should have done differently, but I didn’t.”
“I’m ashamed of myself,” he added. “I’m disappointed in myself.”
So sorry. pic.twitter.com/JkYXzYsrLX
— Logan Paul (@LoganPaul) January 2, 2018
Others have criticized YouTube for keeping the video live for so long. The disturbing and graphic video was viewed by around six million people before being removed. The majority of Paul’s fans are under 18.
“Paul deleted the video less than 24 hours after posting it following outrage, but not before it had been okayed by YouTube’s moderation team,” wrote Jon Russell at TechCrunch.
Logan Paul's video was reported and YouTube manually reviewed it; they decided to leave it up without even an age restriction… people who have re-uploaded it since have received strikes for graphic content. Ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/Hj9lyiQwE2
— Ben (@TrustedFlagger) January 2, 2018
“Let that sink for a minute. A person who is paid to kept unsuitable content off the platform looked over this video, and the footage of the victim’s barely-blurred-out corpse hanging from a tree, and decided that it is the kind of thing that should exist on the internet’s most popular video service,” Russell added.
So, aside from Paul’s tasteless and despicable behavior, the video hosting giant has some explaining to do. Indeed, YouTube’s guidelines specifically state that “it’s not okay to post violent or gory content that’s primarily intended to be shocking, sensational, or disrespectful.”
A spokesperson for YouTube released this statement in the wake of the controversy:
“Our hearts go out to the family of the person featured in the video. YouTube prohibits violent or gory content posted in a shocking, sensational or disrespectful manner. If a video is graphic, it can only remain on the site when supported by appropriate educational or documentary information and in some cases it will be age-gated.
We partner with safety groups such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to provide educational resources that are incorporated in our YouTube Safety Center.”
The spokesperson did not reveal any possible consequences for Paul and his channel as a result of his terrible actions. According to YouTube policy, channels can be subject to a “strike” if they break the rules. If you receive three strikes, your channel may be closed down.
Paul has also been hit hard with criticism from his fellow YouTubers.
PewDiePie, YouTube’s most popular channel owner with over 50 million subscribers, spoke out about the controversy in a video:
“It encompasses everything wrong with YouTube, the clickbait, the sensationalism, the thing that’s got to keep pushing [the envelope]. At the end of the day, it just shines bad on everyone,” the YouTuber, real name Felix Kjellberg, said.
Japan has one of the highest rates of suicide in the developed world and Aokigahara has become a notorious location for those seeking to end their own lives. In 2010, authorities recorded more than 200 suicide attempts, with 54 fatalities.
In an attempt to reduce the rate of suicide, officials installed security cameras at the forest’s main entrance and increased patrols of the forest in 2011, as reported by The Japan Times.
Officials have also erected signs at the forest’s entrance, urging suicidal visitors to seek help and not take their own lives. “Think carefully about your children, your family, one reads, with another declaring: “Your life is a precious gift from your parents.”