A social media expert and member of Amber Heard’s legal team has said he saw more than a million negative tweets about Amber Heard, and testified that the #JusticeForJohnnyDepp hashtag has been the biggest trending topic of the duo’s legal trial so far.
Ron Schnell, social media expert and member of the Berkeley Research Group, testified today, 19 May, that the millions of tweets tagged with the ‘Justice For Johnny’ hashtag were ‘all’ negative towards Heard.
In particular, Schnell pointed out huge spikes in the hashtag’s usage following statements from Depp’s former attorney, Adam Waldman.
A social media expert called by #AmberHeard's team said on Thursday that there were over one million negative tweets about Heard from April 2020 to January 2021. @LawCrimeNetwork pic.twitter.com/0PQWlhkKaJ— Law&Crime Network (@LawCrimeNetwork) May 19, 2022
The evidence was submitted as part of Heard’s countersuit against Depp, in which her legal team claimed that the actor was executing a social media smear campaign against his ex-wife orchestrated through his former lawyer, Mr.Waldman.
And although Schnell admitted that he could not 'get into people’s heads' to conclusively identify the source of the social media vitriol, he identified three major spikes in the hashtags’ usage that were so large they dwarfed every other related trend, all of which occurred simultaneously alongside Waldman’s two statements to the court and Depp’s 2020 libel trial in the UK.
When asked if he could prove how many of the more than two million tweets using the hashtag were negative towards Heard, Schnell balked at the question, and said: “I didn’t think that I could would even be asked that question as most of the content is self-explanatory.”
He also added that a random sample of tweets taken from the hashtag were universally negative towards Heard.
Schnell’s comments, although impossible to prove conclusively, arrive at a turning point in the blockbuster trial during which increased scrutiny has been given to the attitude towards Heard, which many experts have begun to speculate is the result of a large-scale botnet and targeted disinformation campaign.
On Monday, investigative journalist and intelligence expert Alexa O’Brien tweeted: “There is some serious bot activity happening around this depp/heard trial – at the level of subversive propaganda – insane swarms – propagation of false accounts of trial – haven’t seen anything like this before”
There is some serious bot activity happening around this depp/heard trial— at the level of subversive propaganda— insane swarms— propagation of false accounts of trial— haven’t seen anything like this before.— Alexa O'Brien (@alexadobrien) May 17, 2022
This follows repeated claims reported by The Hollywood Reporter, that Depp has long maintained his own social media bot army, which he uses to clean his image and keep his name trending.
Roberta Kaplan, Heard’s former attorney, told THR: “My firm is involved in a lot of controversial cases.
“Our clients are suing the white supremacists and neo-Nazis responsible for the violence in Charlottesville. I have clients who are suing Donald Trump. But, by far, the one case [of ours] that has generated the greatest amount of hostile social media attacks is Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard. Not even close.”
Depp and Heard are currently in the midst of a blockbuster court battle after Depp sued his ex-wife to the tune of $50 million following a 2018 op-ed she wrote in the Washington Post in which Heard insinuated that she was a victim of domestic and sexual abuse.
Although Depp is not explicitly named in the article, his legal team have claimed that the piece "falsely and unfairly characterised Mr. Depp as a villain,” and sued for defamation.
Heard has subsequently denied Depp's defamation allegations and says in a $100 million counterclaim that he assaulted her before and during their marriage, which ended in divorce in 2016.
Featured Image Credit: Law and Crime Network