- Influencers face challenges just like everyone else going through this social distancing period while the COVID-19 coronavirus is spreading across the world.
- In influencer residences like the Hype House, FaZe House, and Jake Paul’s Team 10 house, it’s pretty much business as usual.
- We spoke to internet experts about whether these houses will stick together during this time, what the health risks of living in big groups are, and what these online stars are currently weighing up.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A challenge everyone is navigating right now is where their career fits into the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, and how the recommended social distancing to halt it affects their day to day jobs. This includes influencers, particularly those whose content stream relies on them hanging out with their friends in communal properties like the Hype House, FaZe House, and Jake Paul’s Team 10 house.
As government recommendations for self-isolation get more strict, influencers are going to have to weigh up the benefits of sticking together with the health risks associated with living in big groups. For example, California, where the vast majority of influencers reside, was put into a state-wide lockdown by governor Gavin Newsom on Friday.
How influencer houses are handling social isolation so far
Some influencer houses have residents full time, like the FaZe House and Clout House. Others are a bit more come-and-go, like the Hype House, which only has a handful of permanent residents. The rest of the 20 or so members can rent out rooms as and when they please – as long as they make videos for the duration of their stay.
The latest TikToks on the Hype House’s account, as well as the profiles of many of the stars like Chase Hudson, Ondreaz Lopez, and Nick Austin, show pretty much business as usual – dancing together and promoting merch. Influencers are still gathering at Jake Paul’s mansion for skits and stunts. Gamers the FaZe Clan still appear to be chilling out at their new $US30,000,000 mansion.
@thehypehouseryland took nick out-
“The main risk when being around a lot of people in close proximity is the virus likely being passed across from person to person,” Doctor Aragona Giuseppe, a GP and medical advisor at Prescription Doctor, told Insider.
“This then promotes further spreading as once all these people leave, on their journey home they would most likely spread it on to others in close proximity on public transport, and so on and so forth.”
Dr Diana Gall from online medical service Doctor-4-U told Insider the risk becomes even greater if one or two people are flaunting the fact they are not following the self-isolation advice and are continuing to expose themselves to the virus in the outside world.
“Coronavirus can live on hard surfaces for up to three days if they are not disinfected properly and can spread easily through human-to-human contact such as dining together or sitting on the sofa watching television or gaming for more than 15 minutes,” she said.
“In a shared house, there are many high-risk touchpoints such as toilets, door handles and light switches, as well as less obvious ones such as kettles, phone chargers, washing machines, cookers, and television or gaming controls.”
‘If just one strays, they will be opening up the possibility of infecting everyone’
Alex Ruani, a doctoral researcher in nutrition science education at University College London, and Chief Science Educator at The Health Sciences Academy, told Insider that while there are no official guidelines about living in groups, anyone doing so should be extra cautious – not just for themselves, but to protect their housemates too.
“Influencers hold their mobiles in their hands for several hours daily,” she added. “This means they need to treat mobiles as an extension of their hands and sanitize them regularly, too.”
Stacy Jones, the CEO and founder of Hollywood Branded Inc, told Insider she hopes the millions of eyeballs on these influencers will stop them taking unnecessary risks. Florida spring breakers, for instance, were ridiculed online when they went ahead with their holidays despite the government and the World Health Organisation urging people to stay inside as much as possible.
"I'm not gonna let it stop me from partying": Some spring break visitors in South Florida lamented the restricted access to beaches and entertainment as public health and government officials race against the clock to curtail the spreading coronavirus. https://t.co/8gBUuhcskw pic.twitter.com/LQKBQO5SwG
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) March 18, 2020
“Regardless of how many people are living together in an influencer house, if they actually agree to just stay together, and not see people outside of the house at all, they can stay completely safe,” said Jones.
“However, if just one strays, they will be opening up the possibility of infecting everyone. It’s a big burden to put on some very young minds who likely feel invincible.”
She said it is actually the influencers’ creativity that will determine whether they remain popular during social distancing.
“The reality is, these influencers can make content anywhere. Including locked in a house together,” she said. “The limit is on their being around people outside of the house, and trying to do collaborations with individuals who aren’t already with them.”
Giuseppe said digital natives like influencers and bloggers will probably suffer as they try to stay interesting to their audiences, who will have more content to choose from than ever before – TikTok’s engagement increased 27% in just one month between February and March, according to Glossy.
“Those who earn a living through apps such as TikTok will just have to take the hit, or learn to do videos on their own,” she said.
“They should not be risking the health of themselves and others to make a quick buck online.”
‘A lot of people would appreciate that distraction right now’
Chris Boutté, a YouTuber and mental health advocate, told Insider there are definitely pros and cons of young people congregating together in influencer houses, because “it’s better to be living with people than not with people” right now.
He also thinks a bit of normality is exactly what people need, as regular TikTok and YouTube content helps distance people from the difficult realities they might be facing in their own lives.
“A good example is Danny Gonzales – he released a video yesterday, and he made this slight little comment about how he had a flu, but he did his regular stuff, then at the very end he talked for a minute or two about the importance of social distancing,” he said.
“I wish more influencers would do that – do their regular content, then maybe at the end do a little PSA. I think a lot of people would appreciate that distraction right now.”
@ondreazlopez_Im taking no chances .7
Influencers and celebrities also have to think about the fact everyone is watching them right now, he said. For example,Vanessa Hudgens was heavily criticised when she insinuated it wasn’t that big a deal that people were going to die from COVID-19 on an Instagram live. If influencers aren’t seen to be taking health measures seriously, it could damage their reputations considerably.
It could even be a “career-ender,” Boutté said.
“I’m hoping right now some people mature faster than they usually do,” he said. “Like, as much as Trisha Paytas is pissing everybody off right now, at least she’s not running around in public or anything.”
More established houses will probably stick together
Business Insider’s Amanda Perelli reported Rihanna’s new TikTok collab house, Fenty Beauty House, temporarily closed because of coronavirus concerns. Brandon Relph, the CEO of Studio BE, has some theories about what’s going to happen to the others.
“If everyone from the FaZe clan went home and left the house for a month, it would survive because the content they make is all gaming, which is easy to make no matter where you are,” he told Insider. “You can still do that together even if you don’t live together.”
He said he can see the more established houses staying intact because the stars have careers outside of it. The Hype House, however, might have more problems staying relevant. He said a situation like this might confirm Andy Warhol’s theory of everyone having their 15 minutes of fame.
“It’s going to be a matter of seeing who survives the recession and which creators are still around in six months,” he said. “And even if we took the recession out of the equation, it’s going to be interesting to see who is still relevant anyway. When people rise so quickly, it says to me they can fall very quickly as well.”
Insider’s Hannah Lustig recently reported the Hype House’s founders, Daisy Keech and Thomas Petrou, have fallen out over the trademark, and numerous members of the house are likely to split off and form their own squad as a result. The coronavirus pandemic could be a good cover for them to splinter in two without much fuss.
Influencers set an example, whether they want to or not
Jones said she can see influencer houses surviving the isolation period just fine because they provide creators with key things they need to grow their audiences: attention and a group setting.
“The bigger issues the influencer houses have seem to be more about infighting and having some very young people who haven’t run a business before,” she said, “who all need a lot of focus and attention on them trying to find ways to be in business together, rowing in the same direction – and not fighting for control.”
She added TikToks and fun YouTube videos are a helpful distraction for those who are isolated from their loved ones, anxious over illness or food supplies, and stressed over the mass panic buying which is leaving shop aisles apocalyptically empty.
Influencers can also help educate young people, who may have misinterpreted the health advice or been given the wrong information by the media.
“Tweens, teens, and college students are not understanding the fact that they may be carriers of the virus,” Jones said. “The news has reported to such a high degree that this younger demographic is not really in danger of actual death, that people are choosing to ignore social distancing.”
The message has not spread far enough that younger people are putting their own parents, grandparents, or loved ones with compromised immune systems, at risk by just being outside more than they have to be.
“Influencers in these houses should be reminding their followers of the risks, and also serve as examples,” said Jones. “The more influencers who show that they are out and about and frolicking around, the higher the likelihood that their followers will mimic their actions.”
Insider has contacted the Hype House, FaZe Clan, and Team 10 for comment.