by Lexi Kimmel ‘21
The number of people that have access to the internet and social media has expanded exponentially. We have all seen it–children at restaurants or grocery stores mindlessly watching a show on their iPad or scrolling on a phone seemingly too big for their hands. On sites and apps such as Instagram or Tik Tok, kids are susceptible to becoming fixated on their favorite influencers as their brains develop and they form their sense of identity. This can be fine when they follow and watch honest, wholesome, responsible creators, but what about the many popular creators that promote drugs, alcohol, racism, and pedophilia?
Influencers like Shane Dawson, Zoe Laverne, and the Lopez brothers are all celebrities that have been at the center of major and highly publicized scandals. Racist comments and actions have resurfaced, victims have come forward, and heinous acts from their past have been exposed to the public. You would think that with these details emerging that the creators would lose their following and their platform, but all three of these influencers to this day each have millions of followers. For example, Zoe Laverne boasts 18.5 million followers on TikTok after having multiple major scandals. She has cheated on her boyfriend and done drugs on live, said the N-word without apology, and groomed and committed sexual acts with a 13 year old on camera (she is 19). Her fan base consists of 8-12 year olds that call themselves the “Zonuts,” and who follow Laverne in a cult-like fashion and look up to her. She has also recently announced that she is pregnant, which has sparked debate because her photo proof (positive pregnancy tests) was pulled from the internet.
Shane Dawson, a long-time influencer on multiple platforms such as Youtube and TikTok, has also been at the heart of countless scandals. He has made racist content in black face, broadcasted himself pretending to masturbate to 11-year-old Willow Smith, and admitted to being sexually intimate with his cat. No explanation is needed as to why this man should not have a platform.
The Lopez brothers are new to the social media spotlight, gaining a following in 2019 when the brothers and their dancing content were moved into the Hype House. Eventually, Tony, the younger brother, was exposed for sending explicit photos to a 15-year-old, a girl five years younger than him. A few months later, the 23-year-old brother Ondreaz was accused of having sexual relations with a 14-year-old girl. As a society, we cannot allow susceptible children to be exposed to people like this.
Children are not blind to the scandals, and as long as the creators have a platform impressionable viewers will think their actions are acceptable. Social media users need to unfollow and stop the supply of views and likes so the miscreants and their influence on others are stopped.
Also in “Canceled” Special Report:
Dangerous Ideas on College Campuses by Seth Kauffman ’21
‘The Bachelor’ Needs Serious Reform by Tori Newby ’22
What Does a Word Mean When Used Differently by Everyone? by Graham Skinker ’21
Struggle for Consistency in Sports by Colin Horan ’21
The Problem with Painting Influencers with a Broad Brush by Avery Prudenti ’22