By Eunice Kim
There is no doubt that YouTube gives a space for individuals to freely speak their mind by posting content that enlightens and entertains many viewers. Unfortunately, that same space is also open to those who may not be able to handle the ethical responsibilities that come with such a public job.
Consider Logan Paul, a social media star who has amassed over 15 million subscribers on his YouTube channel. When Paul visited Japan to film daily vlogs, he stated that he wanted to be wary so as not to “disrespect the culture” and proceeded to parade around in a flamboyant and patronizing manner. Deliberately executing inappropriate actions shows how false his motives are in shooting these “real” vlogs.
Beyond the “entertaining” content these kinds of YouTubers claim to offer, there seems to be something else implied as well.
The competition to be a star often leads to controversial, dramatic videos that strike interest in viewers’ hearts and thus generate viewership for popular YouTubers.
Through extreme or inappropriate stunts, the negative exposure actually helps the creators gain more viewers. Most Youtubers appeal to audiences because of their “normal factor;” they build up their followers and relevancy through their relatable, open personality and unique stories. They aren’t Hollywood stars whose personal lives are usually scarcely known about.
This shared connection can create a link between the viewer and the creator but also makes that some immoral actions of YouTubers seem decent, enough to imitate.
For those elevated to immense fame on Youtube, actions can result in dangerous consequences when their videos involve distasteful aspects such as delving into age-inappropriate content like profane language and ghastly pranks.
According to researchers of Stony Brook University, people tend to identify with their role models and eventually imitate the behavior of the people they like or have shared social connections with.
Additionally, according to BBC Newsround, most teenagers are active on social media at the age of ten with Variety Magazine stating that six out of ten influencers for 13-18 year olds are YouTubers.
These YouTubers with platforms are not always appropriate for young and vulnerable audiences, especially when it is difficult to skirt past the standards of what is post-worthy.
YouTube has guidelines for users to follow; however, it is difficult for a platform that honors freedom of speech to preserve those standards all the time.
Nonetheless, it is important to hold YouTube accountable for its users’ actions, especially popular YouTubers such as Logan Paul.