YouTube is making an example of controversial creator Logan Paul

Get in line.
Get in line.
Image: AP/Jordan Strauss/Invision
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YouTube is hitting controversial creator Logan Paul where it hurts, by putting a dent in his estimated $40,000-$700,000 a month of ad revenue.

The streaming-video company has suspended ads on the popular YouTube channel Logan Paul Vlogs. Paul recently returned to the platform after public outcry against a video from Japan’s infamous “suicide forest,” which showed the body of a teen, led him to step away. Paul chose not to run ads in that video, given its sensitive nature. And, at the time, YouTube simply removed Paul’s channel from its Google Preferred program, which highlights the top channels on YouTube that are safe for advertisers, and said it was looking into ways of preventing videos like that from surfacing on the site.

The company took action against Paul after he returned to the platform this week and continued to post offensive videos. Many are no worse than anything found on MTV in the 2000s, when Jackass was on the air. But a few, like the “suicide forest” video, stepped over the line for YouTube.

Paul tasered a dead rat in one of his first posts back (5 minutes in) on Feb. 5—a video that did feature ads. And he reportedly tweeted “swallowing 1 tide pod per retweet” on the same day, in reference to the dangerous Tide Pod challenge, in which people record themselves eating detergent packets and post the videos to social media. (The tweet appears to have been deleted.) Both instances are examples of why Paul’s videos are unfit to run ads, according to YouTube.

“After careful consideration, we have decided to temporarily suspend ads on Logan Paul’s YouTube channels,” a YouTube spokesperson told Quartz. “This is not a decision we made lightly, however, we believe he has exhibited a pattern of behavior in his videos that makes his channel not only unsuitable for advertisers, but also potentially damaging to the broader creator community.”

If Paul continues to violate YouTube’s policies, ads could be permanently disabled from his channel, per YouTube’s guidelines. Advertising, in addition to sponsorships and merchandising, are the main ways many YouTube stars make money. Forbes estimated that Paul earned $12.5 million in 2017, and the site Social Blade estimated that he earns up to $8 million per year from ad revenue, based on common ad rates. Paul pushed his new merchandise heavily in one of his recent videos, saying that he was trying to make up for the loss of advertising dollars.

It’s not just that Paul is attempting to monetize these unsavory posts, but that his actions are drawing scrutiny of YouTube’s entire creator community. Paul’s channel has more than 16 million followers, and each of his posts in the last week, including the video with the dead rat, has racked up more than 5 million views. One surpassed 14 million at the time of this writing. Paul has the public’s attention, and people are looking to see how YouTube handles its stars who step out of line. Creators are also looking to him to see what they can and cannot get away with.

YouTube’s message to them is that no one is too big to be subject to its rules.