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How Twitter Activated Amber Heard


Actor Amber Heard is not doing well in Twitter’s court of opinion, after re-emerging as a polarizing figure amid the libel case filed against her by ex-husband Johnny Depp.

Depp, 58, is suing Heard, 35, for $50 million after Heard wrote a personal op-ed in The Washington Post discuss domestic and sexual violence. Depp claimed the piece, which does not name him, falsely portrays Heard as the victim of his abusive behavior.

The case began Tuesday in Fairfax County, Va., and saw testimony from Depp’s sister, Christi Dembrowski, and childhood friend, Isaac Baruch.

Amber Heard leaves Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virginia on April 12, 2022. Heard is being sued by her ex-husband, actor Johnny Depp, over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018.
SAMUEL CORUM/AFP via Getty Images

This unfolding episode is the latest in a long and bitter saga between the former couple, from a highly publicized messy divorce to Depp’s failed libel case against News Group Newspapers (NGN) after the tabloid British The sun dubbed him a “wife beater”.

When Heard won a restraining order against Depp in 2016 after claiming he hit her in the face with a phone, she faced backlash online from fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean star.

This, however, was countered by overwhelming support from Twitter users who pointed to a systemic disbelief of women telling stories of abuse.

A Newsweek A review of tweets using the terms “Amber Heard”, “Johnny Depp” or both posted in 2016 and “liked” at least 100 times found about 36 tweets supporting Heard or criticizing Depp. Only two expressed some bias towards Depp.

This balance has now been reversed. Of more than 500 tweets with more than 100 likes posted since Tuesday that explicitly take sides in the lawsuit, at least 502 posts have endorsed Depp. About seven tweets made the case for Heard.

Newsweek has contacted representatives of Depp and Heard for comment.

Depp vs Heard

“I can’t believe people need video evidence that Johnny Depp is violent to believe Amber Heard,” one tweet posted in 2016 read. “LISTEN WOMEN.”

“Johnny Depp will be immediately forgiven by the media, but Amber Heard will be called a liar and a gold digger for a very long time,” another user wrote.

After Depp sued management company TMG for mishandling his funds in 2017, court documents during the proceedings alleged that the actor’s staff and security were aware of incidents of domestic violence towards Heard.

Twitter users went on to blast Depp over the revelations, including Donald Trump Jr., who welcomed the reports after Depp joked about the assassination of then-President Donald Trump.

Johnny Depp leaves Fairfax County Circuit Court
Actor Johnny Depp leaves Fairfax County Circuit Court after the first day of the trial between him and his ex-wife Amber Heard, in Fairfax, Virginia on April 12, 2022.
SAMUEL CORUM/AFP via Getty Images

In 2018, the year Heard wrote it Washington Post op-ed and Depp sued NGN—Twitter users discussed a perceived lack of accountability for Depp, relying on his British QG magazine cover shoot, recurring role in the fantastic beasts and where to find them franchise and appearance at Comic Con (where Heard was also present.)

That year, Disney confirmed that it had dropped Depp from his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. After the actor lost his defamation lawsuit in 2020, Warner Bros. asked him to withdraw from the role of Grindelwald in fantastic beasts.

Although as of 2019, Twitter has changed its tone.

In his 2019 defamation lawsuit against Heard, Depp called Heard’s accusations an “elaborate hoax”, adding that they were “disproved” by two police officers, several third-party witnesses and 87 surveillance camera recordings.

According to court documents, Depp also submitted a photo of his severed finger, an injury he says was sustained after Heard threw a bottle of vodka at him.

In 2020, footage of two starkly different depositions by Heard and Depp — recorded in 2016 and 2018, respectfully — surfaced online. Both parties have separately made allegations of violent behavior against each other.

The same year, the Daily mail shared audio recordings of arguments between Depp and Heard, in which Heard admits to “hitting” Depp and says no one will believe him if he comes out as a victim of domestic violence.

“Tell the world, Johnny,” he can be heard saying. “Tell them Johnny Depp, I, Johnny Depp, a man, am also a victim of domestic violence.”

Netizens quickly rallied around Depp, resulting in many viral tweets supporting the Edward Scissorhands actor.

Many tweets called for Heard’s dismissal Aquaman productions and dropped out as a spokesperson for L’Oréal. Hashtags like #JusticeForJohnnyDepp and #AmberHeardIsAnAbuser were widely used.

Twitter users have also expressed concern that Heard’s allegations will discredit survivors of domestic violence, as well as the #MeToo movement. Depp and Heard’s ordeal also sparked a conversation about the stigma surrounding male victims of abuse.

“Given the recent revelations about the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard situation, I just want to apologize for ever saying shit to Depp as a domestic abuser, given how much he appears to have been a victim of domestic violence. “, one person tweeted. “Heard did a lot of damage by lying about it.”

Amber Heard speaks with a lawyer
Amber Heard speaks with her attorney Elaine Bredehoft during the defamation lawsuit filed by her ex-husband Johnny Depp in Fairfax County Circuit Court on April 12, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“When Amber Heard accused Johnny Depp of domestic abuse, all she had to do was write an op-ed for the world to believe,” another wrote. “But Depp had to produce 87 surveillance videos, photographs, 17 statements and witnesses to prove that it was he who was the victim and not her!”

A Twitter user who identifies as a Johnny Depp fan and a feminist posted, “Amber is completely enjoying a movement. Society today is not used to men being assaulted, but it should start. That’s the reason men never tell their stories.”

Almost consensus for Depp

With the start of Depp’s libel case against Heard, the hashtag #JusticeForJohnnyDeppVirginia2022 appeared on Twitter. There was near consensus among Twitter users to side with Depp against Heard.

“Cancel culture really is the weirdest thing,” one person said in a post retweeted 2,760 times. “Will Smith is canceled for punching Chris Rock at the Oscars but Amber Heard is not canceled for abusing Johnny Depp??? What a world.”

“Let’s go, Amber Heard’s team playing the ‘Amber is so tiny then [small] she could never hurt Johnny Depp if she wanted to ‘cart’, wrote another.

“MEN CAN BE ABUSED BY WOMEN TOO. STOP INVALIDATING MEN VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.”

As the high-stakes libel case continues, there has been much anticipation as to who will speak next, with Tesla CEO Elon Musk as well as actors James Franco, Paul Bettany and Ellen Barkin named as eminent witnesses.




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