IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Celebrities flock to Instagram Live to entertain fans during coronavirus social distancing

While some famous faces have used the platform to read books or play music for fans, some have caused controversy while on Instagram Live.
Image: Chrissy Teigen and John Legend
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend at the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif., in February.Rich Fury/VF20 / Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Across the nation people — including celebrities — are shutting themselves indoors.

But the show must go on.

Famous faces including singers Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Justin Bieber, John Legend and his wife, model Chrissy Teigen, rapper Cardi B, actor Hilary Duff and others have flocked to Instagram Live to entertain fans while they isolate themselves from crowds amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Performers like Legend, Coldplay's Chris Martin and Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard have even used the hashtag #TogetherAtHome to promote their streams meant to entertain millions stuck at home.

Celebrity streaming shows on the platform something that will become more frequent in the coming days and weeks, according to Charles Porch, Instagram's head of global partnerships.

"I think in times like this, and when times get tough, [celebrities are] turning to Instagram to connect with fans to, first, help get out really good information like washing your hands and staying home and the next phase now, which is coming together with the community," Porch told NBC News.

Singer Miley Cyrus hosted a livestream in which she highlights what she calls “bright minded stories” and shares feel-good news with fans. On Tuesday, Cyrus was joined by singer Demi Lovato, and the stream was viewed by as many as 50 million people on the platform, according to screen captures of the video shared to Twitter by fans.

Fans will be seeing much more of Cyrus on Instagram Live, according to Porch, who said Cyrus will be streaming on Instagram Live Monday through Friday while the nation practices social distancing. Cyrus will be joined by a host of other celebrities who will also be streaming to their fans as the country battles COVID-19.

"We're going to see more series where people will do regularly scheduled programing," Porch said. "It's going to be interesting to watch this going forward and watch people at home create their own television networks."

While Cyrus and Lovato asked each other questions and chatted during their shared livestream, Legend and Teigen performed songs and broadcast some of their daily activities at home, like cooking.

Legend sang Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Beauty and the Beast," among others.

Martin also performed for Coldplay fans on Instagram Live, playing the group's "A Sky Full of Stars." Country star Keith Urban did his own half-hour concert on Instagram, accompanied by his wife, actress Nicole Kidman.

In addition to those performances, singer Lizzo hosted a live meditation on the app, actresses Amy Adams and Jennifer Garner kicked off an initiative started on the platform to read books to children in order to help parents, and singer John Mayer was joined by comedian Dave Chappelle on his Current Mood Live show to discuss COVID-19.

Some celebrities chose to use Instagram's stories feature to address their fans, urging them to stay home amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Duff criticized people she had seen going out, ignoring calls for social distancing from health officials.

"To all you young millennial a------- who keep going out and partying, go home. Stop killing old people, please," Duff said.

Singer Billie Eilish, who was forced to postpone several dates on her world tour due to COVID-19, also posted a lengthy Instagram story asking her fans to stay home.

“I’ve seen a lot of young people out in the world, like, all over the place going to the club or going to the beach or like just going out or hanging out, and it’s really irresponsible,” Eilish said.

She added that at first she didn’t care about the virus, thinking she was young and “immune.”

“I did not realize it’s not about me … it’s not about you. It’s about if you do happen to get it or you're near somebody who gets it and you don’t even get it, you can transfer it to someone who is much more weak,” Eilish said. “Don’t panic, but don’t be an idiot.”

However, some celebrities who went on Instagram to broadcast themselves earned backlash for comments about the coronavirus that were deemed insensitive.

Actor Vanessa Hudgens came under fire after she said that deaths due to the coronavirus are "terrible but ... inevitable" during an Instagram Live video broadcast on Monday.

"Um, yeah, 'til July sounds like a bunch of bulls---. I'm sorry," Hudgens said Monday of the potential length of the social distancing in the U.S. "It's a virus, I get it. Like, I respect it. But at the same time, like, even if everybody gets it, like, yeah, people are going to die, which is terrible but, like, inevitable?"

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

After making the statement, she added: "I don't know. Maybe I shouldn't be doing this right now."

Hudgens later posted an apology for her statements to Twitter.

Despite Hudgens' livestream, the response to the celebrities broadcasting on Instagram has been overwhelmingly positive.

"It’s so inspirational to us," Porch said. "We’re seeing humanity at its finest on Instagram and seeing people come together."

One Twitter user, who asked that NBC News only identify her by her handle, @FionnaMeeks, said watching Legend's performance from her apartment gave her a mental break from everything she's seen as an intermediate care unit nurse in Chicago.

"It was an awesome thing to see people come together in times like this," @FionnaMeeks, 25, said. "I needed something to break my feed other than all the crazy going on in the world."