Logan Paul YouTube Controversy

A YouTube sensation, Logan Paul appeared in major news headlines recently for posting a controversial YouTube vlog on December 31, 2017.  Paul is a 22-year-old whose fame started from his Vine videos.  Over time he grew his fan-base to 16 million subscribers on YouTube by vlogging daring stunts and displaying mischievous behavior.  Initially, Paul and a couple of his friends were interested in the haunted aspect of the forest.   As they documented their journey into the foliage they unexpectedly encountered a deceased suicide victim.

The controversial video he posted contained footage of a suicide victim’s hanging corpse in the Aokigahara forest, a notorious location for people to commit suicide in Japan.  Though the face of the suicide victim was blurred, capturing the body in the film was deliberate as the camera zooms in on the victim.  Many criticized the joking manner Paul had while on camera and felt that he did not take the situation seriously enough.

Paul’s controversial vlog in the Aokigahara forest received over millions of views as well as quick backlash from fans, non-fans, and other huge-platform stars.  Some individuals took advantage of Twitter to voice their opinions such as Aaron Paul (not related) from Breaking Bad.  After the video had gone viral for some time, Logan Paul took it down and apologized on Twitter addressing how the video was intended to “raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention.”

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Many also criticized YouTube for allowing this video to be featured on the site as a trending video.  A user on Twitter questioned YouTube’s regulation on creator content and how this video was allowed to remain published over 24-hours.

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After a whole week of backlash from the Logan Paul controversy, YouTube responds through a tweet on Twitter claiming that ads on Paul’s channel will be “temporarily suspended”.  According to Forbes, YouTube will be implementing two new policies that state videos of high profile creators will be manually reviewed and stricter entry into the YouTube Partner Programme to prevent users from monetizing on their content so easily.

YouTube does have policies regarding gory and graphic content and generally do not allow such content to surface on the site.  However, this situation with Paul’s video was treated differently.  Was it treated differently because Paul was a high profile character? Should it have been treated differently because of the creator’s high platform?  Should have YouTube stepped in and take down Logan Paul’s vlog from the moment it received major backlash?


Where should the line drawn with Facebook Live content?

In July 2016, a Minnesota woman named Diamond Reynolds went live on Facebook right after her fiancé, Philando Castile, was shot in the arm by police in his car during a traffic stop. According to Reynolds, Castile was reaching for his wallet and drivers license when the officer shot. The couple’s four-year-old daughter was in the backseat during the entire ordeal. The video shows Castile bleeding through his white t-shirt and a visibly upset four-year old child. Castile later died due to the wounds.

Originally, Facebook took down the post due to the graphic nature and content, but the post was put back up shortly thereafter.

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Facebook’s standards do not ban violence because as one spokesperson said, “In many instances, when people share this type of content, they are doing so to condemn violence or raise awareness about it.”

In today’s social media digital age, this is one of the newest and most popular forms of citizen journalism. According to Reynolds, she chose to log onto Facebook that evening so that she could get out the truth. This video alone was streamed 3.2 million times less than 24 hours later.

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Many users were torn whether or not this post raised awareness or should’ve been streamed in the first place. Many people also pointed out that since the stream began after the police had shot Castile, it caused more problems due to the fact users were unable to actually see what caused the police officer to feel the need to act the way he did.

The post created a lot of backlash around police officers and their protocol as well as brings up a lot of commentary surrounding racism and law enforcement. A couple days later, protestors in Dallas used Facebook Live to stream police officers being ambushed by a terrorist. Does this raise awareness? Or does it promote violence?

Should Facebook have kept the video down that Reynolds took? What is the difference between police officers being ambushed by terrorists and Castile’s distraught daughter being streamed while her father died? What types of policies does Facebook need to implement to ensure that the content posted on their platform actually does raise awareness? How can Facebook control content when there is a “live” option to begin with?