Opinion, Science & Tech, World

YouTube: The Adpocalypse, Logan Paul, and Suicide

The rise of YouTube on the internet has been unparalleled, enabling individuals to become successful video creators on the platform. However, YouTube is increasingly failing most of its members, struggling to find a healthy balance between its users and advertisers, also called the Adpocalypse. A circumstance that is further showcased by the trainwreck that is Logan Paul and his already infamous suicide video showing a real corpse, that got trending on YouTube.

Let’s get the most apparent remark out of the way right at the start: YouTube is a business. A highly successful one at that. The company managed to create a business space on the internet from scratch, building a sizeable community of unique content creators. YouTube came a long way from just sharing funny bite-sized video files to fully original and exhaustive entertainment options, courtesy of its diverse content creator user base.

It even enabled people to live from their YouTube ad-revenue, creating a more or less stable stream of income for the most successful of its creators. However nice that sounds, creating a stable flow of income is not the aim of a business venture, the goal is growth, which is only achieved by more views and more ads and therefore more revenue. It created a conundrum for the video platform, struggling visibly to juggle necessities of creators and advertisers alike. The result of which is called Adpocalypse on YouTube, and it tipped the platform in a direction that, ultimately, paved the way for the controversial Logan Paul video of a dead person hanging in a forest.

The YouTube Adpocalypse

What happens when business interests are outweighing morals? Censorship happens. Not full censorship, YouTube is still a platform where almost any respectful content is accepted. Nonetheless, YouTube actively discourages its content creators to post certain types of content. This can range from political footage, opinions and topics to just foul language. The reason? Advertisers don’t want to get sponsored on certain videos. The term Adpocalypse on YouTube stems from the business decision of the platform to actively flag content and demonetize it, meaning that no ad revenue can be made with the video.

While it may be a fair point that someone that pays to advertise on a platform should somehow have a certain amount of control over his or her advertising campaign, however, it bears the risk of pissing off the people that made the platform so successful in the first place, rewarding hard work with exact nil. And boy did it do just that.

YouTube Adpocalypse Discrimination

The whole Adpocalypse scandal didn’t just go by in a blink, it started in 2017 and lingers on until today, influencing YouTube content in a number of ways. You see, YouTube’s demonetization and flagging process is anything but clear-cut and transparent. YouTube seems to be unable to properly moderate its content, and it shows. Content on the Las Vegas Shooting was demonetized as a whole, which is OK if communicated and executed correctly, except it didn’t demonetize the big names.

Channels like those of Jimmy Kimmel were able to run ads on their channels with the same content smaller creators were demonetized for. The demonetization of certain political content, such as videos about LGBTQ topics didn’t help either. It’s a big juicy mess of intransparent policies trying to appease money hogs over the actual heart piece of YouTube – its content. Something that brought us to the newest scandal. YouTuber Logan Paul in a Japanese suicide forest, filming a body hanging from a tree and cracking uncomfortable jokes.

Logan Paul: A Direct Consequence of the Adpocalypse

One would assume that the suicide video of Logan Paul would be taken off and shut out by YouTube in a heartbeat. Well, it wasn’t. It managed to rake up around six million views and even got featured on the trending page, though was never monetized at any point. It was eventually taken down by Logan Paul himself.

The backlash was massive, with other YouTubers unanimously condemning the video as a horrible piece of clickbait, exploiting a horrible tragedy. But how is that even relatable to the Adpocalypse we mentioned earlier? Well, it’s all about money and momentum, forcing YouTubers to keep the momentum going and creating traffic by all means possible.

While all those continuing to do work as usual during and after the Adpocalypse were frequently penalized by various forms of demonetization, some YouTubers resorted to a very old trick – Clickbait. YouTube gets increasingly swamped with ridiculous clickbait videos, which are overly dramatized and usually hide rather harmless content behind bold headlines to increase the click rate. Logan Paul is one of those perpetrators, though he has already been involved in several more extreme behaviors. But then again, what do you expect of a 20-something kid that got exposed to early internet fame, a large teen following and way too much money. A disconnect from reality at the very least.

Logan Paul and the Aokigahara Suicide Forest

Logan Paul has since apologized multiple times for his behavior, in both written word and video. He claims he wanted to raise awareness, and the only reason as to why he cracked jokes on his video next to an only partially blurred corpse in Aokigahara forest was just him trying to cope with the situation.

We cannot know his real intentions, so claiming he intended the video to turn out the way it had would be a bit much. But judging from the clickbait nature of his content and the whole set up of the situation points to him at least planning to imply he had found a ghost/body/anything in that forest to sell the video. He certainly couldn’t be sure to encounter an actual suicide victim, yet he has, and his reaction to fully film and lament about it on YouTube shows a certain character trait. Sensationalism, fed by YouTube’s recent policy decisions and inactivity to punish the people and creators that actually deserve it, while being seemingly overwhelmed by its own platform and content.

YouTube’s only comment on the occurrence was, that it does not grant violent content if it is in any way exploitative or disrespectful and not accompanied by anything of an educational or documentary value, yet it failed to remove the video when it first appeared. That’s all. YouTube remains as intransparent as ever, even when its very concept seems to slip away under their fingers. It was a rocky start for 2018, and it surely wasn’t the last we heard of it.

About Andreas Salmen

Born and raised in Germany, learned a job in IT and Business and ultimately decided that this wasn't exactly where my life was going to end. Left everything behind to become a writing backpacker instead. The world's crumbling away anyway so why not write about it and get a few good Instagram pics on the way, am I right?

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