Influencers and COVID-19 – is it ethical to promote Track and Trace and then go on a work holiday?

When I look on Instagram, I can see many of the ‘influencers’ that I follow have been on business trips to Dubai and Barbados. What concerned me when I looked into their account was that they have been promoting the NHS Test and Trace service through their posts. That’s how I came to the question for today’s blog post – Is it ethical to promote track and trace and then jet off on holiday?

Let me start of by answering my own question – NO. Personally, I don’t think it is right that these ‘influencers’ who use their platforms to promote the NHS system to escape to another country for a so called ‘work holiday’. It would be bad enough if they weren’t posting about it but they are. Do these influencers have no shame, no ethics?

To help you understand my viewpoint, I will give you some context into the NHS Track and Trace influencer campaign.

The campaign was launched last year and saw influencers, such as Love Island’s Shaughna Phillips, post messages on Instagram to promote the NHS campaign. It used hashtags such as #letsgetback and #gettested alongside throwback pictures of them with their friends.

Funnily enough, when I went to find some of these posts, they had disappeared off Instagram. Did they delete them on purpose because they knew it would look bad on them? I would love to know the answer to this. My guess is that they did this due to the bad press and backlash that they have received over it.

The deletion of the posts reinforces my answer to the question I posed – they must of realised that it wasn’t ethical to post their work holiday pictures on Instagram after promoting the campaign. Therefore, they deleted their promoted posts for the NHS and the work holiday posts.

However, luckily for us, other people had screenshotted their posts before they were removed. Here is some of the examples from Love Island star Shaughna Phillips’ Instagram account.

(c) – Daily Mail (2021) Revealed: How ministers paid £63,000 to 42 social media ‘influencers’ to promote Test and Trace service – some with as few as 9,000 followers
[online] Available at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9148351/Test-Trace-influencers-paid-63-000-ministers-promote-service.html
(c) – Daily Mail (2021) Revealed: How ministers paid £63,000 to 42 social media ‘influencers’ to promote Test and Trace service – some with as few as 9,000 followers
[online] Available at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9148351/Test-Trace-influencers-paid-63-000-ministers-promote-service.html
(c) – Daily Mail (2021) Revealed: How ministers paid £63,000 to 42 social media ‘influencers’ to promote Test and Trace service – some with as few as 9,000 followers
[online] Available at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9148351/Test-Trace-influencers-paid-63-000-ministers-promote-service.html

These screenshots, taken from the Daily Mail, show what Shaughna had posted to her own Instagram account last year to promote the NHS Track and Trace. She used the hashtags #letsgetback and #gettested associated with the NHS campaign alongside the hashtag #ad. This post has now been deleted.

After she promoted the NHS Track and Trace system, she then posted this picture of her in Dubai. This post has also been deleted from her Instagram account.

(c) – Daily Mail (2021) Revealed: How ministers paid £63,000 to 42 social media ‘influencers’ to promote Test and Trace service – some with as few as 9,000 followers
[online] Available at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9148351/Test-Trace-influencers-paid-63-000-ministers-promote-service.html

Bear in mind, it’s not just Shaughna who promoted the NHS and then went on a work holiday during the current restrictions. Many other influencers have done the same thing. I have only used her as an example to help me answer the question I posed at the beginning of this blog post.

I think the biggest problem lies with the fact that the influencers jetted off on a so called ‘work holiday’ in the midst of a lockdown. Some of them did go before the lockdown but others have used the ‘work’ excuse just to get away from all the restrictions.

Now that I’ve had my say, I want to know what you think. Do you think it is ethical for influencers to promote the NHS services and then jet off abroad where they don’t face lockdown restrictions? Let me know in the poll below.

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