The HSE has reportedly scrapped plans to pay influencers to share public health messages on social media.
The Irish Daily Mail has reported that the HSE had a budget of €25,000 in place to book a list of influencers for social media campaigns, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed Love Island winner Greg O’Shea was one of many influencers on their wish list.
It’s understood Greg’s agent was contacted via email, and asked if he would get involved with the campaign.
While they waited for a response, the HSE shared a tweet written by Greg, which encouraged young people to stay at home.
The tweet read: “Any young people reading this please listen: Stop hanging out in groups! It’s very irresponsible and selfish at this time. You are a potential carrier of the virus and could make your parents/ grandparents very sick. Hang out at home and this will all be over sooner.”
An email sent by the HSE on March 21 read: “In the meantime, could we reshare this tweet? It’s basically what we’ve been asking his agent for him to say anyway.”
Any young people reading this please listen:
Stop hanging out in groups! It’s very irresponsible and selfish at this time. You are a potential carrier of the virus and could make your parents/grandparents very sick.
Hang out at home and this will all be over sooner. #Covid_19
— Greg O’Shea (@GOSofficialpage) March 20, 2020
Rumours that influencers could be paid to promote Covid guidelines started circulating last month, but the move was widely criticised online.
Many argued that influencers should be encouraging their followers to adhere to guidelines anyway – without being paid to do so.
The topic sparked huge debates on the radio and on social media, and some influencers even spoke out to say they wouldn’t accept payment to promote guidelines.
Louise Cooney, who boasts over 211k followers on Instagram, said she “personally would not take payment” for the campaign – but said she would happily get involved “free of charge”.
The HSE has since ditched their plans to pay influencers, and they’re now asking social media stars to share public health messaging for free.
A spokesperson for the HSE also confirmed no influencers have been paid to share messages on social media.
They said: “Well-known people and social media influencers have been part of this and have generously used their platforms to share public health messages.”
“The HSE has not paid individuals for their support.”