We Need to Hold Influencers Responsible for Their COVID-19 Partying

Apologies aren’t good enough; influencers must stop partying — or risk getting their partnerships canceled


In a diagram shared on social media by New York Times technology reporter Taylor Lorenz, hundreds of famous TikTokers have been caught hanging out with one another this summer, possibly spreading COVID-19 amongst one another without knowing it. At the center of the web lies Charli D’Amelio, who has 87.1 million followers on TikTok, many of whom are young and impressionable.

Despite being in an international pandemic, many influencers’ feeds make life seem normal, filled with photos of regular hangouts and parties. Since being identified, either by paparazzi or themselves, their behavior has led to heated debates among their fans and often apologies from these TikTokers — though not an end to their parties.

Although influencers are largely teens themselves, they need to be held at a higher standard and become more responsible for their actions due to their influence on society and their fans.

In mid-August, popular TikTok creator Bryce Hall, who has 13.9 million followers on the app, threw a birthday party for himself with over 100 guests at the peak of the pandemic. The party wasn’t shut down until 4 a.m. by the Los Angeles Police Department. Influencers like Hall should be held more accountable as they have a large following for a reason. When they post anything on social media, they know that their fans will see it — good or bad. Having this kind of platform comes with greater responsibility. 

The social responsibility that influencers hold doesn’t stop at COVID-19 safety. D’Amelio and fellow TikToker Nessa Barrett were caught vaping underage over the summer. Compared to traditional cigarettes, Juul has been marketed as “safer,” likely causing 30% of 12th graders to vape in 2018 despite the risks of lung disease and even death. Though Juul’s hype has mostly died down, followers seeing top TikTok stars vape increases the likelihood of Juul’s reemergence.

In the case of COVID-19, some fans — and even influencers themselves — have argued that other more “normal” young people are behind the virus spread as well, but instead, TikTok stars are unfairly in the spotlight. 

“A lot of people are depressed,” TikTok star Hootie Hurley told the New York Times. “You can’t raise somebody to be prepared to handle this. Every single person is living a completely different life than they did eight months ago and people handle changes and pressure differently. Some people crawl in a hole and isolate themselves, some people party.” 

Ultimately, it is fair to make these creators and influencers more accountable for their actions. Not only are their fans watching, but supporting them financially through merchandise sales. Each of these creators makes a sizable profit from selling their name on clothing, and when they sell their names, they also sell their image and how they portray themselves to their fans. By making money off of the merchandise they are selling, they bear the responsibility of spreading awareness around issues, not creating more.  

Hilary Shapiro ’21 follows many social media influencers like many teens, keeping her knowledgeable of the latest updates. She is also an influencer herself and has over 7,000 followers across her social media platforms.

“It’s definitely frustrating that influencers feel as though their held to a higher standard to host large events,” Shapiro said. ? “However, at the end of the day, it is their life, and their risk they are willing to take. Especially if the state is not enforcing strict guidelines, it’s hard to have a strong opinion on the issue.” When these more popular influencers like Bryce Hall and groups like the Hype House go out and have these parties, they are putting out this face of disrespect to their fans as if they don’t care about this pandemic going on. With the platform to impact millions of people from posting on social media and influencing others on social media, they should be held more accountable for their actions — through loss of brand sponsorships and decrease in follower count — both during the COVID pandemic and when it’s over.