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Depp v. Heard Has Taken Over TikTok: What You Should Consider While Watching the Trial on Social Media

Anyone with a pulse and a TikTok account knows that the Depp v. Heard trial has been taking over social media for the last few weeks. The trial is being televised, so there’s plenty of opportunity for everyone and their mother to make content about it; my For You page has been inundated with raw clips from the testimonies, videos of people offering their takes on what’s being said and fan edits of funny or memorable moments (which is a little weird, but definitely entertaining). However, there are a few things you should keep in mind while watching the trial play out on social media.

But first, let’s all get on the same page. If by some off chance you’re not familiar with the trial, here are the basics: Johnny Depp (yup, Captain Jack Sparrow himself) is suing his ex-wife and fellow actor Amber Heard for defamation over a 2018 op-ed in which she seems to have accused him of domestic violence. After the article came out in The Washington Post, many people (and entertainment companies) no longer wanted to associate with Depp because of his perceived status as an abuser. And now the two ex-spouses are battling it out in a courtroom as Depp’s team tries to prove that Heard’s accusations were not actually true. The trial began on April 11, 2022, and we’ve already heard testimonies from many witnesses as well as from Depp and Heard themselves.

Many of us — including myself — have been keeping up with the trial on TikTok (I mean, how many college students actually sit down and watch the news these days?). But from the very beginning, I’ve noticed that the online discussion about the trial has been largely biased and potentially extremely misleading. 

Take, for example, the comments sections on pretty much every video about Depp v. Heard. They’re filled with people mocking Amber’s facial expressions and doubting her lawyers’ capabilities. It’s fine that people are expressing their opinions, but reading these comments could totally color your view of what you’re seeing and bias your own assessment of the situation. Also, call me crazy, but I don’t think we should be making fun of anyone who goes on the stand to talk about domestic abuse. Whether or not Amber is actually telling the full truth, it sets a bad precedent for how we treat people who speak out about these kinds of things. 

And some of the takes on the trial are completely wild. I mean, is it really that likely that Amber took a bump of cocaine while on the stand in this super high-profile, televised court case? It’s an insane theory, but people on TikTok seem to have already accepted it as fact, despite there being no actual evidence

Also, don’t forget that videos can be easily doctored, and even the ones that aren’t edited could be misinterpreted if they’re spun in certain ways. The vast majority of people who are making videos and writing in comment sections are not legal experts, so take what they say with a grain of salt. 

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been enjoying watching these videos just as much as the next person, and I happen to agree with a lot of people’s opinions on the trial. But I also always try to remember that I don’t have all (or even most) of the facts, and neither does anybody else. It seems like we’ve all picked our sides instead of waiting until all of the evidence is presented and the jury can make an informed decision. We should all be on the side of justice, especially when dealing with a very serious issue like this one. So while you consume the Depp v. Heard content on social media, remember all of the ways that it’s shaping your perception of reality, and try to base your opinions on facts rather than jokes and speculation.

Nicolette is a senior sociology major and professional writing minor at UCLA. In her free time, she loves reading fantasy novels and baking desserts for her friends and family.
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