LOS ANGELES — Logan Paul, 2018’s new major problem for YouTube, has gotten into more hot water with the Google-owned video network.
The issue this time — a rat and the Tide Pods challenge.
YouTube said it would “temporarily” suspend ads on his popular YouTube channel after Paul — one of the top-earning creators on the network — shocked a rat in a recent video with a Taser. Also Paul on Twitter, in a since deleted tweet, suggested he’d eat a Tide Pod for every retweet from his 4.2 million followers — an attempted joke aimed at a dangerous, Internet-fueled teen trend of swallowing the colorful detergent packets for views.
In recent weeks, such prank videos have emerged on YouTube, and the service has been struggling to take them down as soon as they are flagged. U.S. poison centers in January reported 142 incidents from individuals taking the “Tide Pod Challenge.”
Paul, who earned an estimated $12.5 million last year, according to Forbes, has been in the crosshairs of YouTube this year, though it’s hardly dented his popularity among his largely teen and kid fan base.
On New Year’s Eve, Paul posted a video of a trip to a forest in Japan known for suicides, in which he filmed an apparent suicide victim and his own incredulous reaction. YouTube responded to the public backlash by taking Paul out of its preferred program, which gives higher ad revenues to video creators with large followings, and canceled plans to make a movie with Paul for its premium YouTube Red service.
Paul posted an apology video (“So sorry.”) that reeled in 50 million views but also a second round of condemnation by those who wondered if he was simply capitalizing on his mistake. Then, after taking a three-week break, he tried to show followers he had turned over a new leaf, posting a lengthier video on suicide prevention that was viewed more 27 million times. He appeared on Good Morning America.
Along with selling “merchandise” and other deals, YouTube is where Paul makes money. His channel has 16 million subscribers and over 3 billion views for his videos. Unlike other social networks that bring exposure to young people looking to make a name for themselves, like Facebook and Twitter, YouTube rewards them with financial incentives by sharing ad revenues.
Anyone can be a YouTube star if they can pull in viewers. The most successful ones do it by being provocative, an incentive to constantly up the ante.
YouTube is full of prank videos of people pulling out chairs behind unsuspecting souls, waving fake snakes at them, putting weird things into doughnuts and watching unsuspecting folks eat them. In a recent video blog, Paul shows himself operating a Taser on what he says is a dead rat to make sure it’s dead. The video is age-restricted, which means younger YouTube users can’t watch it.
Beyond the Japan suicide video, Paul also ran across Tokyo’s famed Shibuya Crossing throwing pillows at cars, smashed a Game Boy in a store and threw Poke balls at people. These videos drew in a combined 60 million views.
A petition on Change.Org is calling for YouTube to delete the Logan Paul channel. So far, over 500,000 people have signed up.
YouTube wouldn’t comment on deleting his channel, but YouTube terms of service say that if a channel gets three strikes it will take more action.
Logan Paul’s representatives did not immediately return a request for comment.
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