Logan Paul, a well-known YouTuber with over 15 million subscribers, posted a video of a dead body in Aokigahara on the 31st of December 2017. Aokigahara is more commonly known as Japan’s ‘Suicide Forest’. The vlog documents Logan Paul and his friends as they encounter the dead body of a man who took his life, like many, in this popular tourist destination. In the video, Paul jokes and laughs while zooming in on various parts of the body. A member of the group is heard saying that he “doesn’t feel good”, Paul replies “What, you’ve never stood next to a dead guy?” and laughs.

The backlash of the video has been quite intense as many media outlets, celebrities and other YouTubers have been criticising Paul for his careless decision to upload the video. Many claim he uploaded the video for views. However, Paul has removed the video and since issued both an apology statement and video on Twitter.“I didn’t do it for views. I get views. I did it because I thought I could make a positive ripple on the internet, not cause a monsoon of negativity. That’s never the intention. I intended to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention, ” Paul said in the apology statement. “This is a first for me. I’ve never faced criticism like this before, because I’ve never made a mistake like this before.”

The thoughtlessness of Paul’s video has become a huge issue because of the number of subscribers and viewers he has, particularly younger viewers, who may be more influenced by social media stars and how the sensational coverage of suicide can put members of the audience suffering from suicidal thoughts at an even greater risk.

Although, this is not the first time for Logan Paul, or his brother Jake Paul, to spark controversy on social media. The two are constantly pushing boundaries to publish content on the daily. Their brand is built on crazy stunts and a daily production cycle with little time left for editing, therefore it is easy for them to ignore good judgement. In his apology, Paul states, “I do this shit every day. I’ve made a 15 minute TV show every single day for the past 460+ days. One may understand that it is easy to get caught up in the moment without fully weighing the possible ramifications.”

The recklessness and carelessness of the incident highlights an even deeper underlying issue with the YouTube era. Many YouTube stars are posting controversial, racist and immoral videos to gain views and therefore, ‘fame’. With the rising number of views these videos are exposed to, the more damage it can do to the younger generation who may look up to these YouTubers as role models.

There have been many calls on Twitter for YouTube to ban Paul for posting the controversial video and although YouTube said Paul’s video violated its policies, it did not respond to calls to suspend him from the site.

“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,” a YouTube spokeswoman said in an official statement.

Written, prepared and edited by @EdinaZejnilovic, Journalism Student at DCU

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