Influencers Should Better Use Their Influence


Tana Mongeau and James Charles issued apologies after attending parties during the Covid-19 pandemic, after coming under fire for their actions. Source: Instagram; coronavirus background from Wikimedia Commons

Ever since the boom of content-creating platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, social media influencers have snatched the public eye.

With millions of followers, the top 1% of influencers have the most influence (hence the name) on those who consistently interact with social media. Generally, that group of users consists of minors and young adults.
With the outbreak of Covid-19 last year, social media has been a pivotal resource to spread information and guidelines to help keep people safe and healthy. It’s an extremely important and powerful tool that can be very influential, for good or bad.

And unfortunately, many influencers have not been using their platforms in a way to promote the safety precautions necessary to contain Covid-19. Influencers posting videos of themselves at large parties, on extravagant vacations and not following mask mandates are broadcasting their disregard for public safety to their young followers.

Beauty influencer and YouTuber Nikita Dragun threw her 21st birthday party on Feb 2. Hundreds of YouTubers, Instagram models and celebrities attended Dragun’s party, not following CDC suggestions of social distancing and wearing masks. One of those in attendance was fellow YouTuber Tana Mongeau.

According to Social Blade, a website that tracks social media statistics and analytics, Mongeau currently has 5.4 million subscribers on her YouTube channel and 5.7 million followers on Instagram. She averages about 640,000 likes per Instagram post, two million views per YouTube video and is considered a top 1% YouTuber.

Attending Dragun’s party wasn’t Mongeau’s first non-social-distanced event during Covid.

Earlier in the pandemic, Dragun threw possibly the largest get-together during Covid-19 the United States has seen when she organized a party for fellow influencer Larray’s birthday on July 21.

Social media influencers, especially well-known Tik Tokers and YouTubers, attended this party, including beauty influencer and YouTuber James Charles.

Charles has quickly grown to be one of the largest beauty influencers of his time. He currently has 19.6 million YouTube subscribers and 26.8 million Instagram followers.

One significant commonality between Mongeau and Charles is the demographics of their followers

According to Social Blade, 29% of Mongeau’s followers are ages 18-24. Out of his vast following, 23% of Charles followers are between ages 13-17. Both of these age groups are impressionable and easy to manipulate.

Posting videos and photos of gatherings and vacations that clearly don’t follow CDC guidelines instills the idea in a younger age group that Covid doesn’t need to be taken as seriously. Why should they have to quarantine and wear a mask when their favorite influencer doesn’t?

While many party-goers have been able to avoid the general public’s outcry because of their relatively small platforms, Charles and Mongeau were not.

Charles released a series of tweets and Instagram stories, apologizing for his lack of awareness and understanding, and promised that he would be a better role model for his followers. And so far, he has been. Charles hasn’t attended any parties or get-togethers, from what we can see.

The same cannot be said for Mongeau.

She released a short paragraph on an Instagram story after Dragun’s party over the summer, saying that partying during a global pandemic was a “careless and irresponsible action on [her] behalf” and that she will be holding herself “fully accountable.” Shortly after, Mongeau attended a series of large and unsafe events, and posted photos and videos of them on her various social media platforms.

So where does that get us? A 20-word apology and then no display of action or change? That is not enough.

These top influencers were given and have created an amazing platform that allows them to connect to followers who idolize them. Their followers are the reason they are able to live such amazing lives. They buy their merch, pay to see them at events and promote their brands.

Influencers like Mongeau love calling themselves influencers but don’t want to acknowledge the responsibility that comes with the job. Posting videos at large parties with no masks and without following social distancing guidelines is a slap in the face to all her followers who have been in lockdown for months on end.

Mongeau, Charles, and other influencers with younger viewers are especially responsible to watch what they post based on their followers’ demographics. They aren’t required to necessarily make everything “PG,” but posting and promoting unsafe actions for all of their young followers to see is beyond irresponsible.

With the power of being a large influencer comes the ability to encourage one’s following to make good decisions. Had Mongeau posted a photo of her wearing a mask and describing the importance of wearing a mask and being safe at the beginning of the pandemic, the things some of her followers were doing may have changed.

Had she not posted videos of herself at parties, her followers and others on social media might have taken this pandemic more seriously. We need to hold these influencers accountable. Just because they can pay the fees for breaking Covid guidelines should not allow them to do whatever they want. They choose to be in the public eye, therefore they should be held to a higher standard to set a good example for their younger followers.