TikTok has been widely condemned for the ways it allows the rapid spread of unchecked and often-dangerous conspiracy theories. Among the memes and dances, it’s home to all manner of cruelties and bigotry, all of which reaches its young audience at near-instant speeds. Many of the more questionable elements of celebrity gossip, for example, have flourished on the site and put a hell of a lot of people in the terrible position of whether or not to respond to obvious bullsh*t.
Model Bella Hadid has maintained a major online presence over the past few years, talking candidly about her mental health and support for Palestinian rights. She’s been the subject of a lot of gossip over the course of her career, from her relationship with The Weeknd to her mother Yolanda’s involvement on the Real Housewives franchise. She’s definitely seen and heard a lot of sh*t about herself, and now she’s responding.
Last week, a TikTok account called @Celebiteablinds, which is dedicated to spreading unchecked blind gossip, dedicated a ten-part ‘deep dive’ to Hadid. Their claims, which are unverified and originate from deeply suspicious sources, include allegations that Hadid went on a weekslong ‘coke bender’ with fellow model Hailey Bieber in January 2022, that she bragged about starving herself in the lead-up to Fashion Week, and that her mother ‘offered up’ Bella to ‘close a business deal.’ They also claimed that Hadid’s boyfriend was seen taking Oxycontin to ease ‘heroin withdrawal’ symptoms on a recent flight.
These videos, which I won’t link to, have hundreds of thousands of views, alongside other blind item videos dedicated to wildly conspiratorial claims that veer towards QAnon territory in some instances. I mean, we have a woman dedicating TEN TIKTOKs to obviously nonsense and intensely cruel claims that Bella Hadid’s own mother trafficked her out for business deals. I doubt this account expected Hadid to respond, but she did.
Bella Hadid comentÃ³ un video de Tiktok, que compartÃa “blind items” sobre ella.— Bella Hadid Argentina (@bhadidarg) March 16, 2023
“No se dijo nada cierto en este video” pic.twitter.com/FSkFONphRw
I really feel for Hadid here. Having the press dig into your life is bad enough, but fame-hungry losers turning every single lie about you into content that they’re selling as 100% true is astonishing. What makes it all the more aggravating is that refuting such lies is nearly impossible in the world of conspiracies. The responses to Hadid’s comment are as revolting as the original TikTok, insisting that the claims must be true because oh, why would she feel the need to respond to them otherwise?
That’s the trap with this kind of conspiratorial bullsh*t. The goalposts are always moving. If you don’t respond then it’s an admission of guilt. If you do deny it then you’re clearly still guilty because clearly you have something to hide. Every rumour, regardless of its veracity, is accepted as truth because there must be some shadowy cabal keeping the secrets away from us normal people. And yes, if you’re thinking that this sounds an awful lot like QAnon sh*t, that’s because it’s nearly identical. Even when the people spreading this crap, like Deuxmoi or Crazy Days and Nights, have to include disclaimers admitting they sometimes JUST MAKE SH*T UP, they get away with it because the most ice-cream-brained creeps will say that’s them protecting themselves from eeeevil Hollywood lawyers and the like.
Hadid isn’t the first celebrity to respond to or comment on the conspiracies surrounding them. Benedict Cumberbatch and Caitriona Balfe both talked about dealing with weird ‘fans’ who have conspiracies about their children and partners. Louis Tomlinson candidly discussed how the Larry shippers’ obsessions hindered his friendship with Harry Styles. Robert Pattinson noted how the Robsten conspiracies led to racist and sexist abuse of his then-partner FKA Twigs.
Alas, none of their condemnations ended the gossiping and harassment. Those bullies just doubled down. See, they have to say all of that stuff because their evil managers and publicists are forcing them to. They’re actually sending us secret codes that tell the truth about their secret partners or malicious wives or fake babies! I know it to be true because I saw it on Crazy Days and Nights, a blog WITH A LITERAL DISCLAIMER ADMITTING HE MAKES SH*T UP!
It’s also, unfortunately, very difficult to properly shut stuff like this down, as long as it’s billed as ‘allegedly.’ So accounts like this can continue to exist and be fuelled by a combination of bad media literacy, conspiratorial obsessions, and general bigotry. You know me, I’m a big believer in the power of celebrity reporting and treating gossip seriously. But this crap right here is not what I’m talking about, and watching it spread like wildfire is extremely concerning.