Irresponsibility of Influencers During COVID-19 Crisis is Unethical

Emma Truchan, Editor-in-Chief

   As of publication, the United States has seen over 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19, and the Centers for Disease Control continues to encourage social distancing and mask-wearing to combat the spread of the virus ( Yet, many celebrities — particularly those with young and impressionable audiences — have contradicted these guidelines and advertised their actions to their fans. This kind of highly publicized irresponsibility is unethical, and contradicts an influencer’s moral obligation to be a positive influence for their audience.

   A total lack of concern is visible among popular TikTokers. According to CNN, TikTok star Bryce Hall was charged with hosting a twenty-first birthday party with hundreds of attendees. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti stated, “Despite several warnings, this house has turned into a nightclub in the hills, hosting large gatherings in flagrant violation of our public health orders” (

   Possibly worse than shamelessly going against CDC guidelines is the hypocrisy and disingenuine fronts that some powerful influencers adopt. For example, Fashion and Lifestyle Influencer BestDressed previously encouraged mask-wearing and social distancing to her 3.5 million YouTube subscribers at the inception of the pandemic. Yet, in a more recent video, she flaunts clips of large social gatherings and travel ( This unclear message of responsibility is dizzying to watch, and indicates that the initial guideline adherence was simply to gain public approval. Social responsibility cannot be treated as a fad or passing trend for clout; influencers have a duty to hold a thorough commitment to positive action.

   This disregard for public health isn’t just seen in social media influencers; concerts, as sights of large social gatherings, have acted as petri dishes for COVID-19 contamination. Sunrose, an L.A.-based indie band, has held concerts with dozens of attendees, none of whom appeared to be wearing masks or social distancing, and has posted the events on the band’s Instagram. one of which features the caption “Let the world open up.” And with their 15.7 thousand followers on the app, the band has a large reach over impressionable fans ( Similar to the actions of social media influencers, it is simply irresponsible to encourage this kind of behavior. But what separates the actions of Sunrose from those of BestDressed is the personal and financial gain that are acquired from sponsoring large in-person gatherings; concerts held under these conditions directly profit off of the endangerment of a loyal and committed fanbase.

   Some may defend these influencers, suggesting that they are not obliged to behave in a certain way based on their amassed following. However, as Junior Charlotte Donk stated, “Although [influencers] may feel like it’s not their job to be a positive influence, [their actions] are still harmful to others. They should show that they care about their audience.” Whether social media idols choose their position or not, their vast reach still guides their audience, and therefore, they have at least a partial responsibility to convey responsible messages. With the weight of COVID-19, this goes beyond the duty of those with a platform, but to an inherent obligation to care about the wellbeing of others.

   COVID-19 remains a significant global issue as cases continue to rise and the death count inches higher and higher. Despite a moral obligation to do so, influencers have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to act as positive role models for their audiences. Ultimately, young people must be conscious consumers when it comes to social media and entertainment, and use their best judgement when it comes to listening to their beloved personalities.