- YouTube/Logan Paul
- YouTube users have posted multiple copies of a controversial video YouTube star Logan Paul deleted on Monday.
- Two copies of the video, which includes images of the body of a suicide victim Paul encountered in Japan, were featured in the trending section of YouTube before they were removed a short time later.
- The incident highlights YouTube’s struggle to monitor its service.
A controversial video from a YouTube star that showed the body of a suicide victim has found new life on the streaming video site – highlighting yet again the Google-owned company’s struggle to police its service.
YouTuber Logan Paul apologized for and deleted the video, which depicts him coming across a body in a so-called suicide forest in Japan, on Monday. But by Wednesday, multiple copies of the video, which was originally posted late last month, were available on YouTube and had already garnered millions of views. Indeed, on Wednesday morning one copy was ranked second in YouTube’s trending videos section, and another ranked 20th.
Those videos later disappeared from the trending section. But before they did, YouTuber Pia Muehlenbeck posted screenshots showing their ranking in the site’s top-trending charts:
The Logan Paul re-uploads are now #2 and #20 on trending…. what… pic.twitter.com/zKgYNlAY8W
— Pia Muehlenbeck (@piamuehlenbeck) January 3, 2018
YouTube is removing some of the complete and partial copies of Paul’s video when it determines they violate its guidelines, a company representative said in a statement. But the company isn’t planning to remove all such videos.
“Videos containing parts of the original content without the graphic footage may remain up if they do not violate our guidelines,” the representative said. “We are not removing these videos because many of them offer commentary and discussion on the original video.”
Some of the copies of Logan’s video include information about suicide prevention, a move that may have been designed to skirt YouTube’s rules for posting graphic content.
On Tuesday, YouTube said Paul’s video violated its policies and the company issued a “strike” against his page. But the fact that the video was uploaded again by other users and reached featured spots in a prominent section of the site echoes other problems the company has had maintaining control over what gets posted to and is promoted on its service.
In the immediate aftermath of the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October, for example, YouTube highlighted fake news clips about the incident in its search results. In response, the company rushed out a change to its search algorithm that was designed to prevent it from promoting fake news stories by pushing up results from established media outlets and users.
But the Paul video illustrates another weakness in YouTube’s systems. Users can copy a controversial video, upload it, and game the site’s search engine to reach the top of its list of trending videos, even if the video is in violation of YouTube’s standards.