The phenomenon of social media stars living together in lavish Los Angeles homes and documenting their lives — and parties — on TikTok is quickly turning into a cautionary tale during the pandemic.
TMZ reported that a popular TikTok video creator Bryce Hall held a birthday party in the Hollywood Hills over the weekend, a bash that attracted a massive crowd of people who didn’t appear to be wearing masks or social distancing, according to online videos. Hall has 12.9 million followers on TikTok.
The rise in influencer houses comes amid reports of house parties as revelers shrug off concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and ignore warnings from public health officials that gatherings help spread the virus throughout the community.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who had already banned large gatherings, recently authorized the city to shut off L.A. Department of Water and Power services at residences where the hosts defy public health orders.
But the parties continue, including those hosted by some prominent TikTok stars: young individuals who live together in picturesque homes, document their lives and relationships to their millions of followers and make money by promoting brands.
A large Hollywood Hills bash believed to have been held by social media stars was shut down by police over the weekend, marking at least the second time in several days that officers from the L.A. Police Department have been forced to visit the home.
Mike Lopez, an LAPD spokesman, said he had no information about the TMZ report. He said that officers responded to complaints about noise at a home in the 8700 block of Appian Way early Saturday morning. Sources said TikTok influencers live in a house on the street.
The Times couldn’t determine if the home was the location of the party identified by TMZ.
On Sunday morning, two young men, one shirtless and the other wearing a red sweatshirt and shorts, walked out of the house on Appian Way to briefly speak to a Times reporter. The man in the sweatshirt said about 20 people had been at the home, suggesting a large party hadn’t taken place. Both men declined to identify themselves.
A “Notice of Violation” was visible on the property Sunday. The city notice stated that police had visited the home on Aug. 14 and Aug. 8, and observed violations pertaining to hosting “loud and unruly” parties and “disturbing the peace.”
Another sign taped on the property, dated Aug. 14, was a final notice of noncompliance with the mayor’s guidelines prohibiting large gatherings. The warning stated that the final notice may be referred to the Los Angeles deputy mayor of public safety or his designee for review and issuance of a directive to shut off utility services.
Under the mayor’s directive, LAPD officers who respond to a large party at a property can request the utilities be cut within 48 hours. Homes where parties regularly occur are the target, Garcetti has said.
A spokesman for the mayor didn’t respond to a request for comment Sunday.
A woman who lives in this section of the Hollywood Hills said she’s uneasy about the apparent defiance of those holding gatherings during the pandemic. “It doesn’t make me feel good,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.
Allen Carpenter, a neighbor who lives on Appian Way, criticized the mayor’s rules dictating gatherings and the threats to cut off utility services. He said that young people should decide whether they want to risk getting sick from the coronavirus and should be able to have parties if they want.
“They’re young people,” Carpenter said, adding that “they’re probably not going to die.”
As the number of coronavirus cases surged over the summer, Garcetti and other elected officials in Southern California have come under increasing pressure to find ways to persuade people to follow orders such as wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings.
The recent jump in infections in the region has only made those orders more important, officials say.
Separately, police union leaders have balked at the mayor’s call for officers to help enforce his strategy for closing down the parties, arguing that Garcetti should instead enlist civilian workers to carry out those orders.
L.A. is home to nearly a dozen influencer houses that started because of TikTok, which debuted in the U.S. two years ago. The viral video streaming app, owned by China-based ByteDance, is under pressure from the U.S. government over concerns about how TikTok handles U.S. user data. President Trump has ordered ByteDance to divest its U.S. operations in TikTok by Nov. 12.
TikTok said it has not and will not give U.S. user information to the Chinese government.
Some digital creators, like YouTuber Michelle Khare, criticized Hall and “everyone else who went to these parties.” Khare wrote on Twitter that her father works at a hospital, and she hadn’t seen her family in seven months.
“You’re selfish to a degree I didn’t know humanly possible,” tweeted Khare, referring to Hall.