January 4, 2018 3:51 pm
Updated: January 5, 2018 4:24 pm

Is Logan Paul’s multi-million dollar empire at risk?

WATCH: One of YouTube's highest-earning stars has sparked a major controversy by uploading footage of a corpse. Logan Paul has made a name for himself as an online jokester, but as Ines de La Cuetara reports, his fame is now under fire.

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YouTube superstar Logan Paul has decided to step away from making videos after a fierce backlash over footage he posted Monday evening, showing the corpse of a man who recently hanged himself in Japan’s “suicide forest.”

Paul, 22, announced on his Twitter account Thursday that he would be stepping away from his incredibly popular video blog (vlog) to take “time to reflect.”

The “suicide forest” video, now deleted from YouTube, can currently be found on other sites and is reportedly being viewed by millions of people. Before it was removed from YouTube, it had been viewed by six million people around the world.

WATCH BELOW: Logan Paul’s apology video

Many people are dissatisfied with Paul’s apologies and amends, pointing out that he neglects to link to or point out any suicide help groups and chat lines for those who need help.

A Change.org petition titled “Delete Logan Paul’s YouTube Channel” has almost reached its 150,000-signature goal.

“It’s not about YOU, Logan Paul. A man who had family and friends chose to end his life, and you chose to share his death to your millions of followers without thinking about how his family/friends felt? It’s disgusting and shouldn’t be tolerated. But with the power of the internet I think we can get rid of this scumbag once and for all, with your help of signing this petition it could lead to deleting his entire channel!” reads part of the petition.

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As of this writing, Paul’s vlog has an astounding 15.2 million subscribers, definitely nothing to scoff at. If you combine the audience from all of his social-media sites, it reaches a staggering 48.7 million. The majority of his fan base — called the “Logang” — is tweens and teens, and while some have vocalized their intentions of abandoning Paul, the vast bulk of them are standing by their man. (WARNING: The video below contains foul language.)

Indeed, Paul’s fame seems steadfast, even in the wake of public disgust. His younger brother Jake, 20, who has been radio-silent during this whole event, has nearly as many subscribers as Logan (approximately 12.8 million). Paul’s net worth is approximately $6 million, while Jake’s is around $4 million.

“Because of the growing sensationalism of violence and tragedy online, and the fact that people are entertained by disturbing video content, it’s no surprise that Logan Paul’s subscriber base continues to grow and thrive in the midst of his grossly insensitive video,” said Amanda Alvaro, president of Pomp & Circumstance PR in Toronto in an interview with Global News. “He’s still amassing over 40,000 subscribers per day since the release of his apology video.”

The brothers got their start on now-defunct video app Vine, where they would post videos of their “bro” antics and Jackass-like stunts. From there, they moved from Westlake, Ohio, to Los Angeles, and the rest is history.

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“There was real-life opportunity to make a career for ourselves, for the rest of our lives,” Jake told the New York Times Magazine last September. “We were working with brands and advertisers. I was, like, 17 years old, making more money than my parents.”

In one of Paul’s December videos, he gushes about how 2017 was his “rocket fuel” year, and he reams off a laundry list of achievements (mostly purchases): he launched a clothing line, Maverick Apparel; bought a US$6.5-million mansion replete with koi pond; purchased a brand-new Mercedes truck; bought a school bus and turned it into a “cool bus,” and more.

Paul makes thousands of dollars through ads on each video he posts, and he has commercial partnerships with brands like HBO, Disney and Pepsi.

Rather than worry about losing his fan base, Paul should definitely be worried about losing sponsorships, said Alvaro. Basically, fans will come and go, but the sponsors are where the money comes from.

“Despite the backlash from celebrities and some fans, his overall fan base seems to be staying intact, many of whom have become ardent defenders,” Alvaro said. “But the biggest danger to his brand is not the loss of some fans, it will be the loss of sponsors … as companies decide to distance themselves from Paul and his actions.”

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“To combat that kind of brand erosion, he has done the only thing he could do: take a leave from social media to ‘reflect,'” she said. “His return will likely include a monologue about what his reflection revealed, and a partnership with a suicide prevention organization. Hopefully, turning his sizable platform into an opportunity to reach millions of young people about suicide. Without that move, he’s at risk of remaining in the firestorm… that is, until the next YouTube star makes a heinous mistake and our limited attention is drawn elsewhere.”

Paul has gotten in trouble before, including his arrest in Rome, Italy last year for flying a drone over the Colosseum.

In July 2017, a Hollywood community banded together to file a lawsuit against Jake, who was allegedly destroying their neighbourhood with late-night parties, vandalism and general debauchery. They sought to boot him out. (You can see more about that story in the video, below.)

As for YouTube’s part, the company has been relatively mum on the subject of Paul.

A spokesperson at Google, which owns YouTube, confirmed to The Japan Times on Wednesday that Paul’s video “does violate” the video-sharing site’s policies, adding that it was taken down by the YouTuber himself.

“Our hearts go out to the family of the person featured in the video,” the Google press team said. “YouTube prohibits violent or gory content posted in a shocking, sensational or disrespectful manner. 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.”

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While YouTube has the ability to sanction its platform users, the company has not definitively stated what it plans to do in regards to Paul. It says it does not comment on individual accounts, so for now, Paul is sitting pretty.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the Canadian Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS), available 24/7, at 1-833-456-4566. For more information on suicide and to find help nearest you, visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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