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Johnny Depp trial – Amber Heard dominates TikTok

If you’ve opened TikTok in the past two weeks, you’ll struggle to escape the comments or clips from the defamation trial brought by Johnny Depp against his ex-wife Amber Heard in a Virginia courtroom.

The trial, based on an article Heard wrote for the Washington Post in 2018, in which Depp claimed she smeared him, became inevitable on TikTok. There are regular updates from the courtroom, from both established news sites. Videos tagged with the hashtag #johnnydepp have 11.3 billion views, with the hashtag #justiceforjohnnydepp garnering 5.6 billion views. Most of the videos support Depp and defame Heard. It all begs the question: why?

TikTok representatives declined to comment on this story. But many app followers have theories as to why Depp-powered videos are dominating TikTok.

“TikTok has always been a great amplifier for cultural moments,” said Abbie Richards, a researcher at the Accelerasts Research Consortium and a disinformation researcher who specializes in how content travels on TikTok. – “If you interact with a video about a topic, the algorithm will know that you like the topic and will continue to offer you similar — or even related videos.”

Johnny Depp's trial - Amber Heard dominates TikTok - Photo 1.

Like traditional media, TikTok was overwhelmed with footage and information about the trial. Several news networks have hosted live in-app streams covering what’s going on daily in the courtroom, which helps increase awareness and engagement with the trial. That caused a gold rush for other creators to join the conversation that seems to be dominating the app, creating a flywheel of more content.

One of the key commodities on TikTok is the virality of its memes: users watch a particular type of video or a certain piece of audio and create something similar to try and capitalize on the popularity. its variable. In this case, the trial itself became a meme. “Whether you’re part of Depp’s fan base or not, the rush to join the conversation about Depp is motivated,” said Tom Divon, a visual communication researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. powerful by the algorithm amplification feature and the golden ticket to the For You page”.

Johnny Depp's trial - Amber Heard dominates TikTok - Photo 2.

Amber Heard is currently receiving many negative emotions from the audience. (Photo: Michael Reynolds/Pool Photo via AP)

There is also the fact that Depp is very much loved by his cyber fan base, especially because of his role in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. While the hashtag #justiceforjohnnydepp is hitting 6 billion views, #justiceforamberheard is lagging at 21 million. “What we’re seeing in anger against Amber Heard has several layers,” said Georgie Carroll, an Australian scholar who studies the relationship between online creators and their audiences. is something that represents all fans or fandoms, but we always see a certain degree of dislike and distrust towards the partners of famous male artists.”

“Fans often think that a female partner isn’t ‘good enough’ for their favorite celebrity, or hold out hope that that person is really who they are.”

In addition to the viral momentum of a live news event that many feel they have a stake in, featuring well-known celebrities with dedicated, experimental fan bases Depp-Heard also tapped into a third accelerator to ensure its success: cybersleuthing TikTok.

Although the idea of ​​amateur bots using the Internet to collaborate on research projects has been around for years, the movement has been fueled by the engaging, immersive nature of TikTok videos. .

“When a celebrity gets involved in a controversy — whether something is alleged or proven — our modern social media landscape is immediately under tremendous pressure,” Carroll said. – “However, as we are seeing, many people choose to redouble their love for Depp instead, believing that the course of the trial will prove their favorite actor’s innocence. With a few weeks left until it’s over, TikTok is likely to continue to resonate with pro-Depp, anti-Heard content.”

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