Nearly two weeks after Logan Paul posted a YouTube video depicting an apparent suicide victim — and just over a week after he removed it and apologized — the online video platform has announced it is scaling back its relationship with the vlogging star.
"In light of recent events, we have decided to remove Logan Paul's channels from Google Preferred," a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement to NPR on Thursday, referring to the program connecting advertisers with top-tier content producers on the site. "Additionally, we will not feature Logan in season four of 'Foursome' and his new Originals are on hold."
Those projects include The Thinning: New World Order, Paul's follow-up to his 2017 feature-length film for YouTube. The launch of that sequel has also been shelved.
The move represents a punishment for Paul, whose work on YouTube boasts some 15 million subscribers and — by at least one estimate — earns him up to $1.3 million a month. The vlogger violated its policies on gory content with a video showing his visit to Aokigahara, a forest near Japan's Mount Fuji that has developed a worldwide reputation for the number of suicides carried out among its trees.
During that visit, Paul discovered a person who had apparently killed themself. In the footage that followed, which blurred the person's face, Paul and his friends stood beside the body and reacted initially with jokes and laughter. Later, according to The Verge, he spoke to directly to the camera, saying his laughter was a coping mechanism and adding: "Suicide is not a joke. Depression and mental illnesses are not a joke."
A version of the video that cut the images of the dead body can be viewed below.
The video drew millions of views — but it also quickly drew rebukes from people on social media who said it made light of a tragic and pervasive issue. One of those people, Anna Akana, referenced the horror of her own sister's death and added, "You do not walk into a suicide forest with a camera and claim mental health awareness."
Paul eventually took the video down and posted multiple apologies, including a video in which he said, "There's a lot of things I should have done differently, but I didn't. And for that, from the bottom of my heart, I'm sorry."
In an open letter posted to Twitter on Tuesday, YouTube acknowledged a "lack of communication" in its response to Paul's video, referencing Akana's comment and saying, "Suicide is not a joke, nor should it ever be a driving force for views."
"We expect more of the creators who build their community on @YouTube, as we're sure you do too," the company said. "The channel violated our community guidelines, we acted accordingly, and we are looking at further consequences."
And the note promised that "we'll have more to share soon on steps we're taking to ensure a video like this is never circulated again."