Hype House TikTokers called out for being bad influencers

Published 2020-07-29 08:00

Influencers have a responsibility to act as role models, expert says

If you’re feeling that the world around you is more normal these days, you’re not alone.

After all, rules about where we can go and who we can see are less strict than they were back in March, when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

So much so that some people are getting together in large groups, and they’re being called out for it — because it’s still not OK.

This past week, some of the world’s biggest influencers were caught, and have since apologized, for partying in huge numbers.

Influencers James Charles and Tana Mongeau are among the social media stars who attended a party earlier this month at the Hype House.

They weren’t wearing masks or practising physical distancing.

Here’s what the Hype House is all about, the backlash that followed the party and why one expert says influencers have a big responsibility to their followers.

What is the Hype House?

The party took place on July 21 in what is known as the Hype House, a house in Los Angeles where a bunch of influencers live and create content together.

Title: What is Hype House? A rental mansion in L.A. that includes a big backyard with a pool, formed in December 2019 by several TikTok stars, including Lil Huddy and Thomas Petrou, home to dozens of notable TikTokers House rules include asking permission to invite friends over and creating content regularly, a place to collaborate on videos for TikTok, YouTube and Instagram  

Influencers who live there include Thomas Petrou, Chase Hudson (a.k.a. Lil Huddy), Tayler Holder, Addison Rae, Patrick Huston and Avani Gregg.

Collectively on social media, the house members have tens of millions of followers and counting.

The backlash

The now-infamous Hype House has been described by members as a place that’s not for partying, but recent events reflect otherwise.

Videos and pictures shared on social media from the party, which was just one of several recent gatherings, showed a packed house with lines just to get in. 

YouTuber Tyler Oakley, who has more than seven million subscribers, took to Twitter the day after the party, calling out famous attendees for not encouraging responsibility during an ongoing pandemic.

He wasn’t the only one — countless other social media users called out the influencers for appearing to disregard public health recommendations.

The apologies

In response, Mongeau took to Instagram on Monday to apologize for going to the party, saying she is holding herself accountable and will be “staying inside.”

“Partying/going to any social gatherings during a global pandemic was such a careless and irresponsible action on my behalf,” Mongeau said on Instagram.

Charles also addressed the party during a recent video, apologizing for his actions.

A text box from a James Charles video posted on July 25 reads:

“I recognize that with my platform comes responsibility, and I encourage you guys to be smarter than I was,” he said in a statement in the video.

The influence of influencers

Influencers have a certain amount of responsibility, says one expert.

They’re valuable because they are building a brand that can be used to sell products, convey a personality and display a desirable lifestyle, said Jenna Jacobson, an assistant professor at Ryerson University in Toronto and a research fellow in the school's Social Media Lab.

But they also have a large network of followers, and with that comes “a responsibility to their audience,” Jacobson said.

“When you have an audience, influencers are acting as role models and as trendsetters.”

Not only that, but she said influencers’ actions have an impact on their audience, especially young people who largely get their news from social media.

An Instagram picture of Hype House memebers, shortly after they moved in in December. They are all wearing matching outfits: blue jeans and white tops.

But Jacobson also said it’s important to recognize that people become influencers at very different ages, and some might still be adjusting to the new responsibilities.

“By positioning yourself in the public eye on social media, you are opening yourself up to larger audiences,” she said.

“With that comes praise and also comes critique.”

TikTok has not yet responded to a request for comment from CBC Kids News.

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