YouTube is weighing in on the uproar after popular video personalityposted a video on the site showing what appeared to be the body of a suicide victim. The 22-year-old YouTube star pulled the video Monday, but it had already been viewed 6.3 million times.
In a statement, YouTube said, "Our hearts go out to the family of the person featured in the video," and then insisted that the site "prohibits violent or gory content posted in a shocking, sensational or disrespectful manner."
The statement continues: "If a video is graphic, it can only remain on the site when supported by appropriate educational or documentary information and in some cases it will be age-gated."
YouTube also pointed out that it partners with groups such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline "to provide educational resources that are incorporated in our YouTube Safety Center."
In the video titled "We Found a Dead Body in Japan's Suicide Forest," Paul and his entourage stumble upon a body hanging in Japan's Aokigahara Forest, at the base of Mount Fuji. Paul addresses finding an apparent suicide victim by apologizing to "Logang" (what he calls his fan community) and saying "this was supposed to be a fun vlog ... this obviously just became very real."
One day later, Paul removed the video and issued an apology on Twitter, writing: "I'm sorry. ... I did it because I thought I could make a positive ripple on the internet, not cause a monsoon of negativity. ... I intended to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention and while I thought 'if this video saves just ONE life, it'll be worth it,' I was misguided."
By Tuesday, the backlash had become so intense that he created a video apology saying "I made a severe and continuous lapse in my judgment ... the reactions you saw in that tape were raw and unfiltered. I should have never posted the video."
Paul is especially popular among teens and preteens. Last year, he told "60 Minutes'" Bill Whitaker that he "speaks the language of millennials."
"If someone has an idea, it's like 'yeah,' we just run with it, you know?" Paul said.