By Isa Thornber
As society has seen the rise of social media, celebrities have become increasingly influential. Social media users have always been able to speak their minds and post what they wish to share, within reason. However, in recent years, celebrities have gained massive followings on social media, and some of them use their platforms to spread hateful messages.
Cancel culture is also a controversial issue in regards to social media, presenting the issue of how to handle celebrities using their platforms negatively. Many influencers have been “canceled,” but they still have platforms with many followers.
Ava Packer, ’24, says she can think of many celebrities who have negatively utilized social media:, “James Charles, Shane Dawson, Kanye West, pretty much any ‘canceled’ celebrity.” Packer states that Kanye West’s social media presence has become “really harmful and horribly antisemitic. People spreading hate don’t deserve a platform.” Her view is that West’s presence should be taken from him so he is forced to stop spreading hate.
Brennan Hackard, ’23, agrees with Packer that West’s behavior on social media is harmful, but has a different opinion on the next steps;, “He has the right to express himself even though what he’s saying is disgusting.”
In addition to individual celebrities spreading hate, celebrities are capable of enabling other internet personalities to spread hostility. Recently, Tesla founder and billionaire Elon Musk purchased the app Twitter for $44 billion. He has used this purchase to unban certain people that had previously been silenced, including former president Donald Trump, media personalities Jordan Peterson, Andrew Tate, and congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. Musk’s purchase and decisions put into perspective the power that celebrities have over society and the responsibility that comes with wealth.
“It’s honestly hilarious that within a week, people have used the verification system to tank the stocks of the insulin company that’s exploiting a disability for profit. Go people!” says Packer in regards to Musk.
“I don’t use Twitter very much so it doesn’t really impact me. I disagree with some of his decisions when it comes to how employees are treated but I also realize that the company is losing money and being tougher might be necessary. I’m also supportive of his free speech policy; it’s not perfect but it’s definitely much better than before he bought the company. However, I do disagree with the decision to make blue checkmarks cost money,” claims Hackard.
Other people with large platforms have harmed their audiences in other ways. It’s no secret that influencers and Photoshop have contributed negatively to society’s beauty standards. “Almost every social media ‘celebrity’ has an influence on their followers in some way. Really anyone who has an impact on one’s image, like the Kardashians setting unrealistic goals for beauty,” suggests Juniper Rodriguez, ’25.
Different celebrities have varying impacts on social media. However, celebrities have extreme power, and their actions have influence. Opinions shift in regards to cancel culture, but overall, celebrities should be aware of how they act and understand the potential consequences of their actions.