PGI’s Digital Investigations Team brings you the Digital Threat Digest, daily SOCMINT and OSINT insights into disinformation, misinformation, and online harms.
On the subject of the internet bringing out the darkest elements of human nature, we consider just one example of what that looks like.
Johnny Depp jeopardy
Yesterday we delved into the internet being full of self-centred idiots and how social media has come to reflect the darkest of human nature. Today, I provide further evidence of that when looking at the drama surrounding Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. I am not here to pick sides and I don’t think random people on social media even have a right to pick sides either, but the scale at which media coverage and outright misinformation has been circulating is terrifying. Importantly, most of this misinformation has targeted Amber Heard – is anyone really surprised?
The range of content that’s been fabricated is really something; let’s see if I can summarise: Amber Heard literally quoting The Talented Mr Ripley during her testimony, Amber Heard using cocaine during her testimony (because of how she allegedly held the tissue), Amber’s lawyer quitting, Johnny Depp’s kids speaking up against Amber in court (they didn’t even testify in court) – all of these, just pure fabrication. The list goes on, but I am sure you have all seen your fair share over the last few weeks.
The stats prove the grotesque misogyny as well, with videos on TikTok using #JusticeForJohhnyDepp having more than 12 billion views, while videos using the similar #JusticeForAmberHeard having 44 million views on TikTok. YouTubers have shifted their content completely from gaming content and general blogging to pro-Depp videos as part of the movement supporting the old pirate. Bots on Twitter have continued to churn out these hashtags and anti-Heard content, some even sharing links to merchandise plastered with anti-Heard sentiment like ‘Don’t be An Amber – Justice for Johnny’ or my personal favourite ‘Never Fear Truth’ next to a picture of Johnny Depp.
Truth, what even is that? We have decided what truth is without even knowing the facts. How can we possibly know exactly what went down during this marriage? Sure, it seems like it was an odd relationship but how did we get to a stage where we are analysing every glance, every word, every outfit during this trial and attacking a woman who has said that she was abused.
You might all be wondering why I’ve even covered this topic when there are bigger digital threats to uncover but this is the root of all things evil really, when even the most mundane, the most personal gets twisted. This is just a taste of what the internet can do and how threat actors can spread webs of lies to create a certain ‘truth’. If this is happening during a celebrity trial think of the scale at which this happens in other, bigger conflicts and think about how we all get pulled into it. Importantly, we all love celebrity drama, some of us live for it but end of the day, these are humans – respect that.
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PGI’s Social Media Intelligence Analysts combine modern exploitative technology with deep human analytical expertise that covers the social media platforms themselves and the behaviours and the intents of those who use them. Our experienced analyst team have a deep understanding of how various threat groups use social media and follow a three-pronged approach focused on content, behaviour and infrastructure to assess and substantiate threat landscapes.
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