Social media hate for Amber Heard is still out of control
The Amber Heard libel case against Johnny Depp may have ended in June, with the courts largely siding with Depp, but the weighty saga is being kept alive online. The roughly six-week trial took up most of the media coverage last spring as the two actors aired all kinds of dirty laundry during a televised trial. From absurd incidents like defecation in a bed and maniacal writing in blood on a wall, to more heartbreaking revelations like despicable text messages threatening violence and very serious allegations of sexual and physical abuse, the toxicity of marriage of the couple was revealed to all. . And while the jury returned its verdict, the court of public opinion was more complicated. Twitter trolls have taken to the platform since day one to post disturbing anti-Heard vitriol. But even since the emotional end to the trial, it seems online stalkers have always made it a priority to target Heard and his followers.
Amber Heard’s side of the story is a classic case of Me Too, which usually instills a certain level of respect for victimhood. But Heard was sadly spared any inherent decorum. Depp’s legal team managed to paint the actress as a fame-hungry ex-wife who used the legal process to get Depp’s attention and money. Following the intense smear campaign, Depp Stans took the hashtags #AmberHeardIsALiar and #AmberHeardIsAnAbuser viral. Now, as reported by Varietysome accounts continued these hashtags to troll anyone who expressed support for Heard.
A company called Bot Sentinel combed through 14,292 tweets that used the viral hashtags and reported that 24% of the accounts that posted them were created in the last seven months. Bot Sentinel said “abusive trolls who identified themselves as Johnny Depp supporters subjected women to verbal abuse and targeted harassment”. It was also found that hashtags were sometimes mistyped to read as #AmberHeardLsALiar and #AmberHeardLsAnAbuser, in order to circumvent the platform’s algorithms. In one case, Bot Sentinel reported that online stalkers “doxxed a woman’s family and created a fake Twitter account using a photo of the woman’s deceased child to troll her.”
The Bot Sentinel report says in a disclaimer that Heard’s legal team hired them “to determine if the social media activity against Ms. Heard was organic or if there was some other explanation.” They found at the time that “a significant portion of the business was not organic.” However, when Monday’s report was released, the company clarified, “Neither Amber Heard nor anyone on her team engaged Bot Sentinel to review the activity. No one hired Bot Sentinel to compile and publish this report. Bot Sentinel markets itself as a company dedicated to exposing the dark underbelly of the web. Their website explains, “Twitter users should be able to engage in healthy online discourse without inauthentic accounts, toxic trolls, foreign countries, and organized groups manipulating the conversation.”
In his first interview after the trial ended in June, Heard spoke about the online hatred towards the Today’s shows Savanah Guthrie. “I don’t take it personally,” she said. “…But even someone who’s sure I deserve all this hate and vitriol, even if you think I’m lying, you still can’t look me in the eye and tell me what you think on social media there was fair representation. You can’t tell me you think this was fair. The online hate was disturbing enough during the trial, but it’s shocking that nearly two months after the verdict was delivered, the trolls still harass Heard and his followers.
It’s unclear how much influence hate has had in the case, but Heard’s recent motion to have Heard’s trial over a juror issue was denied by a judge, who found no reason to argue. overturn the verdict. Heard was found guilty of defaming Depp in her 2018 op-ed in the Washington Post which did not mention him by name, but alluded to abuse in a past relationship. Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, the latter of which was reduced to $350,000 under the statutory damages cap. Conversely, Depp was found liable for a defamatory statement made by his attorney about Heard and ordered to pay Heard $2 million.