One of YouTube’s most famous faces, Logan Paul has continually created controversy since joining the platform back in the ’00s. But the vlogger recently appears to have upped the ante when it comes to causing offence. Here’s a look at the 22-year-old’s latest stunts and how they provoked YouTube into action.
Born in Westlake, Ohio in 1995, Logan Paul began uploading videos to YouTube on the channel Zoosh aged just ten. He eventually developed such a large online fan base that he decided to abandon the industrial engineering degree he was doing at his home state’s university. Indeed, by 2014 he’d amassed more than 100,000 followers on Twitter and YouTube and 361,000 on Instagram.
Paul then relocated to Los Angeles with several other youngsters who’d found fame through social media. There he began to earn six-figure sums in advertising revenue accrued through his various posts. On top of that, he proved particularly popular on Vine, ranking as the platform’s tenth most influential star in 2015.
With this in mind, Paul soon began to venture into more traditional media. He guested on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Fox sitcom Weird Loners and Freeform show Stitchers. At the same time, he advertised various big brands including PepsiCo, Hanes and HBO. He also filmed a scene for the big-screen Baywatch reboot, although it didn’t actually make it into the movie.
But Paul soon harmed his chances of a mainstream career thanks to the various controversial stunts in his online content. In 2017 he was accused of objectifying women in his Flobots-sampling single, “No Handlebars,” and its accompanying video. After that, when he discovered the track, Flobots’ Jamie Laurie also described him as representing “douchebag entitlement,” which Paul released without having the sample authorized.
But that was nothing compared to the furor Paul created just a month later. In December 2017 the vlogger uploaded a video of his travels to the notorious suicide spot of Aokigahara at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan. Shockingly, the clip explicitly showed the body of a male who had fatally hanged himself, and it racked up more than six million views within a day.
However, Paul was immediately lambasted by the online community for appearing to capitalize on a suicide victim. In fact, half a million people signed a petition calling for YouTube to remove his channel. In response, the 22-year-old quickly deleted the video himself and offered an apology in which he claimed his actions were a “coping mechanism.”
YouTube later condemned the video in an official statement and removed Paul’s channels from its favored ad program. It also placed the sequel to Paul’s YouTube film, The Thinning, on hold and cut his role in YouTube Red series Foursome. Weeks later Paul uploaded an in-depth look at suicide prevention and donated $1 million to the cause.
Just over a month after causing the controversy, Paul returned to his vlogging day job. But far from watching his behavior in the wake of such a furor, he appeared to be just as antagonistic as ever. Within a week he’d been criticized for joshing about getting involved in the Tide Pod challenge and for his treatment of two different animals.
Indeed, Paul first incurred the wrath of PETA when he took a fish out of his pond and pretended to give it CPR before throwing it back. In the same video Paul tasered two dead rodents for a segment named “Get These Rats.” The animal rights organization argued that the footage “could desensitize young people to cruelty to animals.”
This time around, YouTube decided to take some stronger action. In an official statement, the company announced it would be suspending all advertising revenue from Paul’s channel. However, some people believe that YouTube should have actually come down on Paul even harder.
Alex Brinnand from TenEighty, a magazine targeted at YouTube content creators, was one such critic. He told the BBC, “YouTube has been very slow and reluctant to do anything that is meaningful. Logan Paul is in such a prominent position in the YouTube community that he has… a responsibility and he needs to own up and understand that.”
Indeed, YouTube can permanently remove a channel if it has issued one with three strikes. But CEO Susan Wojcicki told audiences at the Code Media Conference in California that Logan Paul hadn’t yet crossed that line. “We can’t just be pulling people off of our platform. They need to violate a policy, and we need to have consistent behavior.”
Wojcicki went on to add, “What you think is tasteless is not necessarily what someone else would think is tasteless. We need to have consistent laws, so that in our policies, so we can apply it consistently to millions of videos, millions of creators.”
With that in mind, the platform did announce plans to ensure that YouTubers are firmly aware of the consequences if their content violates its guidelines. Two months previously YouTube also announced it would be expanding its moderation teams to help improve its video review service. However, Wojcicki did acknowledge that with 400 hours of content uploaded each hour, reviewing every video was an impossible job.
Wojcicki also admitted at the conference that deciding just how to moderate can be a tricky process. “It’s really important to figure out where are you drawing that line. On one side is censorship, but on the other side is too much freedom of speech.”
Of course, only time will tell whether YouTube’s latest punishment will inspire Paul to tone down his behavior. Although the suspension of ad revenue may cost him up to nearly $500,000 per month, he doesn’t rely entirely on it for his income. Indeed, thanks to the line of merchandise he regularly promotes to his 16 million subscribers, Paul can still pull in huge six-figure sums per month.
And Paul hasn’t exactly taken his punishment lying down. The 22-year-old recently posted a video in which he agreed to compete against fellow YouTube star KSI in the boxing ring. But towards the end Paul admits that on the advice of his legal team, the footage had been censored. He then moaned, “They’re cutting me bro. Creativity being stifled.”
However, Paul’s punishment was deemed fair by an unlikely source – his very own brother. Fellow YouTuber Jake Paul told TMZ, “It feels like a lot but they know what’s best for their platform, and they’ve treated us amazing over the years. I think my brother needs to get better at determining what he should put in his videos when millions of kids are watching.”
But Paul still seems determined to play with fire. Just a week later, he put out a casting call for a “real albino woman” to star in a comedy music promo. One of his followers commented, “Nothing can go well with a white guy exploiting a genetic disorder who’s [sic] track record seems to be on a downward spiral.”