In a “disturbing” case of life imitating true-crime TV, Amber Heard supporters have alleged harassment and threats from Johnny Depp fans on social media.
Since April, the embattled ex-couple — who made headlines all the way back in 2016 during their initial split — has divided millions as a jury decides whether Heard, 36, had defamed Depp, 58, when she signed a 2018 op-ed in the Washington Post, which appeared to accuse her former love of domestic abuse.
Depp is suing the actress for $50 million; Heard subsequently filed a $100 million countersuit.
Now, with both sides having testified — although Heard’s defense remains ongoing — rapt viewers are publicly throwing their support behind one or the other using the hashtags #IStandWithJohnnyDepp and #IStandWithAmberHeard.
And while one can’t yet predict who will prevail in court, some believe it’s Depp who’s winning the social media campaign, as tagged videos for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star are currently pulling in 12 billion views on TikTok alone.
That vocal support has also reared its impolite head in the hallowed legal halls of Fairfax, Virginia, where a gaggle of female fans has gathered for Depp, reported Law & Crime’s Jesse Weber via Mediaite. “It is majority women,” Weber said. “When Heard . . . was testifying, I overheard a lot of people snickering, making snide comments, and laughing . . . In fact, I observed one of the court officers … telling them to quiet down, to show respect to the witness on the stand.”
In fact, “bad headlines” associated with the “circus” of a trial reportedly prompted Heard to fire her public relations firm midway through the proceedings.
Meanwhile, Heard fans — with TikTok views allegedly amounting to a comparatively paltry 44 million — have allegedly endured “sexist” trolls on social media who seek to silence her side of the story, according to an Insider report.
One woman told the outlet that she’d blocked 13,000 threatening Twitter users since the start of the trial. Another reportedly fielded an onslaught of unwarranted violation reports as angry Depp fans sought to shut down her opinion, urging her to “get off social media” and even harm herself.
#IStandWithAmberHeard advocate Katie Diaz, who first voiced her support for the “Aquaman” alum on May 4, claimed that she has since received hundreds of “very disturbing” and threatening messages from strangers, hinting at a coordinated “attack on women”
While hashtags are traditionally used to boost visibility for a particular cause, Depp’s trolls have apparently co-opted the trend in a campaign to intimidate and undermine Heard supporters, according to Diaz and others who spoke to Insider. They suggested that “men’s rights activists” are behind it all, possibly because they may believe that men can’t be victims of domestic abuse.
“None of us have said that men can’t be victims,” Diaz reassured; however, “it’s still vastly men who are the abusers,” she added.
While women are reportedly more often victimized by men, critics have noted that most data on intimate partner violence relies on self-reporting. And the stigma surrounding male victims of partner abuse may skew statistics.
Some of the women told Insider that the case between Depp and Heard is close to their hearts, having similar abuses in their own lives. They’re concerned that the negative press surrounding Heard’s testimony is setting-back women survivors of domestic abuse.
“All Amber’s moves on the stand are being dissected, and the victim-blaming going on right now means that if she cries, she’s acting, and if she doesn’t cry, then she wasn’t abused,” said Sara, who withheld her surname in the interest of privacy.
“It’s way bigger than just Johnny Depp and Amber Heard,” she said.