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YouTube star Logan Paul came under fire for posting a video of an apparent suicide victim in Japan’s “suicide forest,” Aokigahara.
USA TODAY

SAN FRANCISCO — Not safe for kids. That’s the label that some parents are slapping on YouTube after vlogger Logan Paul blasted out a video of a suicide victim in the Aokigahara — the Japanese forest where dozens of bodies are discovered every year — to millions of his young followers.

“There is no filter when it comes to YouTube stars,” says Jill Murphy, editor in chief of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization focused on education and advocacy for kids. “It’s not until something tragic is shown via a video, and viewers react, that the content is removed or dealt with by the platform.”

For years dark corners of YouTube were declared off limits by concerned parents. Now it’s mainstream YouTube that’s setting off alarm bells, with Google’s hands-off approach to the billions of videos that flow through the streaming service and the growing influence of self-made YouTube stars on teens and tweens — even younger kids. 

Paul, 22, has built a mini digital empire out of his ability to hook young people on his onscreen antics. His daily videos, filled with pranks and stunts, routinely fetch more than 5 million views. And last year, thanks to his legions of “Logang” fans, he pocketed $12.5 million from advertising spots, merchandise sales and other sources of revenue, according to Forbes magazine.

The suicide video that Paul posted Sunday night attracted more than six million views and tens of thousands of likes before he took it down. Even his apology video trended on YouTube, ranking number one on YouTube’s trending videos page for much of Tuesday and racking up millions of views.

“Parents need to be aware and the industry has to step up and do a better job of managing content being uploaded that people of all ages can see within seconds,” Murphy says.

Nicole Herman, a 43-year-old mom from Torrington, Connecticut, says the video was a wake-up call for her.

“My 15-year-old son came to me about this video. I was so disturbed and have not realized that I need to monitor what my son watches on YouTube,” she said. “My son was smart enough to tell me about it, which I’m extremely thankful for. I can’t…