TikTok Celebrities Promoting Unsafe COVID Guidelines

Cian O’Toole, Contributing Writer

As the threat of COVID-19 continues to increase, with over 22 million documented cases in the United States, health organizations urge citizens to remain in quarantine, socially distance, and not travel. A good portion of US citizens follow these restrictions with the intention of contributing to the national effort to slow the spread of the virus. However, a number of popular social media influencers have been seen demonstrating improper safety guidelines, all publicized on the internet.

… a number of popular social media influencers have been seen demonstrating improper safety guidelines, all publicized on the internet. ”

The app TikTok has been a growing source of entertainment for teenagers and adults alike while stuck inside during the pandemic. The app rose greatly in popularity from 2019 to 2020, sending a handful of young, viral creators into celebrity status on the TikTok platform. Most notable are Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae, the two most popular creators who both belong to the “Hype House,” a group of well-known TikTok stars located in Los Angeles, California. The encompassing ring of influencers have developed a massive online following, ranging, on average, from teens aged 13 to 19. Their young followers, many of whom look up to these influencers as role models, are presumably more impressionable than the average American, and when major influencers are seen promoting large gatherings, parties, and luxurious vacationing in the middle of a pandemic, controversy unsurprisingly arises.

Throughout the summer and fall of 2020, TikTok influencers were outed multiple times for gathering in unsafe numbers at nightclubs in Los Angeles. On multiple occasions, these celebrities were seen in close quarters, unmasked, leaving popular bars such as Saddle Ranch. These non-socially distant meetings became so well-known in the public eye that other influencers attempted to separate themselves or even condemn the actions of their fellow creators. Highly respected singers and songwriters like Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish were even compelled to call out the bad behavior through other online platforms, with Grande saying, “Did we really all need to go to f—ing Saddle Ranch that badly that we couldn’t have waited for the deathly pandemic to pass? We all needed that Instagram post that badly?”

Disapproval from respected singers may have motivated the TikTokers to temporarily tone down their large gatherings, with Dixie D’Amelio responding, “I mean, she’s right. I think it’s understandable. I definitely have not been going. I just have been trying to stay in and work out.” However, only a few weeks later, the same influencers were seen yet again leaving crowded clubs and big house parties. At that point in the series of COVID malpractice, a few big TikTokers maintained claims that the gatherings had been safely distanced, even after footage was released in contradiction.

This dynamic continues into early January of 2021 when almost all members of the aforementioned “Hype House” traveled together to the Bahamas for a luxurious getaway in Nassau. Many videos were posted of the influencers relaxing and partying on the tropical island and were all met with the usual backlash from the public.

It is possible that the anger and discontent from the TikTok community comes from a place of jealousy for the influencers’ exciting and luxurious lifestyles that we have been rationally deprived of while stuck in quarantine. However, I believe it comes from a place of genuine concern that the TikTok stars will have a dangerous influence on the behavior of their young followers. These celebrities should be held to a higher standard of safety and responsibility; influencers have been granted an incomprehensibly large outlet to share their image with the world and should not demonstrate dangerous behavior that could worsen the state of our pandemic.