Update 12th January 2018: Paul has been dropped by Google Preferred, which helps YouTube channels find brand advertisers. He has also been also dropped from the YouTube Red series Foursome, as well as from the upcoming original film The Thinning: New World Order.
This story was originally published on 2nd January 2018
While many of us spent the new year throwing confetti and sipping sparkling drinks, YouTuber Logan Paul made a different impression on 2018. Over the weekend, the 22-year-old uploaded a video titled “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest…” The video, which has since been deleted, showed the body of someone who appeared to have died by suicide, and while the face was blurred, people were extremely disturbed and upset that Paul would include something so sensitive in a video.
"This is not clickbait," Paul says in the opening. This is the most real vlog I’ve ever posted to this channel. I think this definitely marks a moment in YouTube history because I’m pretty sure this has never hopefully happened to anyone on YouTube ever."
According to Vulture, Paul stumbled upon the alleged body while visiting Aokigahara, a part of Japan's Mt. Fuji known as the "suicide forest."
"Yo, are you alive?" he says in the video. "Are you fucking with us?" He films the body, only turning the camera back to himself to talk about suicide and mental health.
"Suicide is not a joke," he told his viewers. "Depression and mental illness are not a joke. We came here with an intent to focus on the 'haunted' aspect of the forest. This obviously just became very real, and obviously a lotta people are going through a lotta shit in their lives."
While reports that the video was not monetised, and that the description pointed people to the American Society for Suicide Prevention, many viewers accused the creator of exploiting a suicide victim for clicks.
The backlash was so strong that even celebrities have started to weigh in on the news.
In an apology note later posted on his Twitter, Paul apologised for the the video but pushed back at comments accusing him of using suicide to get clicks.
"I didn't do it for views. I get views," he wrote. "I did it because I thought I could make a positive ripple on the internet, not cause a ripple of negativity. That's never the intention."
However, he said it's "easy to get caught up in the moment without fully weighing the possible ramifications," and promised nothing like this would happen again.
YouTube released an official statement to vlogger Philip DeFranco condemning the content featured in Paul's video and explained their policy on graphic videos.
This isn't the first time Paul has made waves on the internet. He and other vloggers both in and surrounding a group called Team 10 make much of their content based on diss tracks and drama — either real or manufactured. It's hard to say with this particular brand of vlogger what's real and what's created specifically as a stunt.
Regardless, Paul's defecse of the slip-up points to the very cause of its existence: YouTube's shift towards daily vlogging and documenting every aspect of your life unfiltered leaves little room for self-reflection, and the pressure to post content as soon as it happens means things that should be kept private end up getting broadcast to millions of people before the creator has time to process the actual message they're sending. In 2018, it may be time to opt out of the 24 hour content cycle — but judging by Paul's latest tweet, that won't be happening any time soon:
Refinery29 has reached out to Paul, YouTube, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for comment.
If you are thinking about suicide, please contact Samaritans on 116 123. All calls are free and will be answered in confidence.
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