Amber Heard’s Treatment On Twitter During Johnny Depp Trial Was ‘Flagrant Abuse,’ Report Says

Amber Heard got a lot of flak on social media during her defamation trial with Johnny Depp. Now comes a report that, perhaps unsurprisingly, shows that not all of that negativity was organic.

Bot Sentinel, a research firm that uses data science and artificial intelligence to detect and track bots, trolls and suspect accounts on Twitter and elsewhere, released a report Monday (July 18) focused on how Heard was treated during the civil trial.

It found that the targeting of the Aquaman actor was “one of the worst cases of platform manipulation and flagrant abuse from a group of Twitter accounts”.

Heard’s legal team hired the company in 2020, but Bot Sentinel says it wasn’t paid by anyone for the Heard research it did in June 2022 after a verdict was reached in the court case.

A jury decided after a six-week trial that Heard had defamed her ex-husband by saying in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed that she had endured domestic abuse.

Depp was awarded US$15mil in compensatory and punitive damages, a number that was reduced immediately to US$10.35mil to align with statutes in Virginia, where the case was tried.

The jury also found that Depp had defamed Heard but awarded her only US$2mil in damages.

Bot Sentinel’s new report, which zoomed in specifically on Twitter, found that trolls had manipulated conversations and trends “while targeting and abusing women to suppress any positive tweets supporting Amber Heard”.

Some 627 Twitter accounts were dedicated primarily to tweeting negatively about Heard and her supporters, the company found.

And almost 3,300 accounts were tweeting the hashtags #AmberHeardIsAnAbuser, #AmberHeardLsAnAbuser, #AmberHeardIsALiar and #AmberHeardLsALiar, with the misspellings perhaps intended to get around Twitter filters.

“We immediately observed dozens of newly created accounts spamming negative anti-Amber Heard hashtags,” Bot Sentinel said in an overview of its 17-page report.

“Many accounts were replying to tweets with hashtags unrelated to the tweet they were responding to. Some accounts encouraged others to get the hashtags trending, and the trolls were successful on multiple occasions.”

After looking at more than 14,000 tweets that included the hashtags above, the company said, it determined that 24.4% of the accounts sending those tweets had been created in the past seven months.

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