Dollars Over Decency

“We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest…” by Logan Paul popped up on my YouTube feed. My face twitched in terror as I watched Paul venture into Aokigahara, a forest northwest of Mount Fuji known for its high suicide rates, wearing a “Toy Story” alien beanie. Not long into the video, Paul and his friends discover the dead body of a Japanese man. Although visibly frightened in the video, the YouTube star had the guts to film and upload the entire vlog to his channel later that same day. I was so sickened after seeing such graphic images that I clicked out and away from the video.

Although Paul took the video down himself, YouTube refused to take any action, allowing the video to hold the number-one spot on the Trending tab for over a day, thanks to the website’s clickbait-oriented algorithms. This is absolutely ludicrous.

After multiple controversies, one would think that YouTube would not allow such a toxic video to explode in popularity. What happened to all their screams for reform? YouTube’s own community guidelines page states that “It’s not okay to post violent or gory content that’s primarily intended to be shocking, sensational, or disrespectful,” and yet, in order to make the most ad revenue, they kept silent. The corporation has all but condoned the content of Paul’s disgusting video by allowing it to remain on the site for so long while collecting their ad-revenue paycheck (Paul is one of the website’s most popular contributors).

YouTube issued an “apology” on Twitter on Tuesday, more than a week after Paul released his vlog, stating, “[Logan Paul’s] channel violated our community guidelines, we acted accordingly.” They are not wrong; here, YouTube has acted according to their greed in order to maximize monetary gains. Unfortunately, this is not even the first time they have acted in this way. For example, in his previous video, “REAL LIFE POKEMON GO IN TOKYO! (Catching Strangers),” Paul and his friends dressed in Pikachu pajamas and ran rampantly through the streets of the peaceful and reserved city, throwing Pokeball plushies at random strangers, including a policeman and a Toyota vehicle. This easily falls under the harassment category or the harmful and dangerous content category.

YouTube has played a dangerous game of doing everything in their power to encourage clickbait and toxic content without provoking outrage in the public. This time they have crossed the line, and at this point, it is safe to say that YouTube’s moral radar is beyond repair.

Many of us at Andover use YouTube on a regular basis; teachers even use it in class pedagogically, and for good reason, due to the abundance of helpful and obscure footage that would otherwise be inaccessible. And yet, the recent Logan Paul controversy has finally shredded YouTube’s facade. This has made me lose faith in the platform, and unless they start enforcing their own community conduct policies instead of just referencing them in nonchalant tweets, we may have to find a new way to watch videos in the future.

Andy Zeng is a New Lower from Palo Alto, Calif.