Written by Jake Ryan and Hailey O’Donnell
Anyone active on the internet for the past ten years has certainly come upon the world’s largest online video platform, YouTube.com. It is estimated that the site is worth up to $40 billion on it’s own since Google’s purchase in 2006.
A recent upload by content creator Logan Paul created a ripple of negative backlash in the media, sparking discussion regarding YouTube regulation measures. The video is set in the Japan’s Aokigahara forest, infamously a site of suicide attempts. Here, Paul discovers a man’s body, seemingly killed by suicide. Much of the backlash Paul received for the video was centered on his reaction that followed. The video shows Paul gawking, pointing, and yelling at the apparently deceased man, continuing to move closer––certainly not the behavior expected or called for in such a, in the words of Paul, “real” sight.
The responses to the graphic video seem to center around two primary questions. First, just how much is this Logan Paul getting paid to release content of this sort? And second, how can YouTube limit horrific and tone-deaf content of this sort?
Logan Paul’s vlog channel alone has around 15 million subscribers, acquiring an average of about 3 million views per day. Thanks to YouTube monetization, which pays each time a viewer watches an advertisement in full, Paul is able to acquire about $36,000 dollars a day––or up to $13 million a year. To place this value in context, Paul makes in one day the cost of tuition at Central Catholic for about two and a half years. The average base pay of a private school teacher is about $47,471 a year. Paul is earning just under this in one day by uploading video content––often focused on the money he has already earned. For example, a video titled, “MY NEW $3,000,000 WATCH!” has about 5.1 million views, another titled, “I SPENT $21,000 ON TWO BAGS OF CLOTHES!” receiving about the same. Some of Paul’s splurges include $20,000 diamond-encrusted grills and a $300,000 Mercedes Benz G Wagon.
YouTube has responded to backlash following Paul’s upload by reiterating their policy on graphic content, which states:
“It’s not okay to post violent or gory content that’s primarily intended to be shocking, sensational, or gratuitous. If a video is particularly graphic or disturbing, it should be balanced with additional context and information. If posting graphic content in a news, documentary, scientific, or artistic context, please be mindful to provide enough information to help people understand what’s going on. In some cases, content may be so violent or shocking that no amount of context will allow that content to remain on our platforms.”
The site has additionally mentioned that they are considering “further consequences” for Paul, along with removing him from their premium ad program Google Preferred and putting his scheduled projects with YouTube Red “on hold.”
As a private company, YouTube withholds these powers of censorship and blocking. Yet it is difficult to control the potentially offensive or graphic uploads of popular stars. The site itself is primarily limited to after-the-fact action, which only means so much when “the internet is forever”. YouTube and it’s content creators will remain a primary actor in new age society, and it seems its products are already demonstrating effects a YouTube generation.
It seems that these YouTube stars have had a profound impact of today’s youth. Now, when children are asked what they want to be when they grow up, the response is less likely an astronaut or a veterinarian. They want to be a YouTube celebrity. Children have a front row seat to the fantastic success of these YouTubers, and who wouldn’t want to make millions of dollars filming themselves doing pranks, making jokes, and playing video games? The wealth that these stars accumulate is far more than the amount a police officer or nurse are able to.
It is doubtful that YouTubers on the internet with millions of views each day recognize the impact that they have on youth. More and more, young people have social media accounts and are exposed to different societal pressures than those of past generations. Some of these pressures certainly stem from the profound fame of the internet sensations that they idolize. The more accessible these influences are, the more they can portray their lifestyles as “the dream.” These YouTube celebrities have the power to continue their growth and reach, that is something we have little power in changing. That said, it will become more and more crucial to examine the impact of this “YouTube Generation” and counter the potentially damaging values.
Ahmed, Tufayel. “How Much Is Logan Paul Worth? YouTube Star Behind Japan Suicide Forest Video Earns Millions From Videos .” Newsweek, 3 Jan. 2018, 7:26 AM, http://www.newsweek.com/how-much-logan-paul-worth-youtube-star-behind-japan-suicide-forest-video-earns-769018.
Ohlheiser, Abby. “YouTube Promised ‘Consequences’ after Logan Paul Vlogged a Dead Body. Here They Are.” The Washington Post, 10 Jan. 2018, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2018/01/10/youtube-promised-consequences-after-logan-paul-vlogged-a-dead-body-here-they-are/?utm_term=.a278b59d3967.
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