Johnny Depp is on TikTok. Less than a week after Depp, 58, won a hefty sum in his defamation trial against Amber Heard, the former Pirates of the Caribbean star created an account on the social media platform, and he shared his first video. Set against Love Joys’ reggae song “Stranger,” Johnny’s video showed him waving to his supporters as he attended his defamation trial and his recent performance with Jeff Beck. Depp also included a message to all of his “most treasured, loyal, and unwavering supporters” with the video.
To all of my most treasured, loyal and unwavering supporters. We’ve been everywhere together, we have seen everything together. We have walked the same road together. We did the right thing together, all because you cared. And now, we will all move forward together. You are, as always, my employers and once again I am whittled down to no way to say thank you, other than just by saying thank you. So, thank you. My love & respect, JD
“We’ve been everywhere together, we have seen everything together. We have walked the same road together. We did the right thing together, all because you cared,” wrote Depp. “And now, we will all move forward together. You are, as always, my employers, and once again, I am whittled down to no way to say thank you, other than just by saying thank you. So, thank you. My love & respect, JD.”
Johnny has found his audience on TikTok. He had over 3 million followers before he posted his first video. Afterward, that number had grown to at least 4.1 million. That single video amassed nearly half-a-million likes in under an hour. As of June 7, Depp isn’t following anyone on TikTok, and his Liked videos are private. His bio reads “Occasional Thespian.”
A jury ruled that Heard, 36, made defamatory statements in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she claimed, “two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse.” Amber never named Johnny in the article. However, the jury ruled in Depp’s favor, awarding him $5 million in punitive damages and $10 million in compensatory damages (the judge capped the punitive damages at $350,000.)
The court also ruled that Amber – who counter-sued Depp — was defamed by statements made by Johnny’s lawyer, Adam Waldman, and awarded her $2 million. Amber said she was “heartbroken” by the decision “sets back the clock” for people speaking up about domestic abuse.
Considering Johnny’s case against ex-wife Amber Heard was dubbed “Trial by TikTok” by the BBC’s David Sillito, it might make sense that Depp would join the platform. The BBC noted that “from its early days, it was clear the overwhelming weight of online traffic was siding with Johnny Depp and deeply suspicious of Amber Heard.” Rafi Mendelsohn, a spokesperson for Cyabra, an Israeli firm that tracks online disinformation, told the BBC that “nearly 11% of the conversation around the trial was driven by fake accounts, which is a very high number.”
“When we talk about disinformation and fake accounts, very often people think about big geopolitical campaigns, elections, politics generally,” Mr. Mendelsohn of Cyabra told the BBC. “But actually, what we’re seeing is anyone with a global or a public reputation is a brand online, whether that’s a celebrity or a consumer brand… there’s an increase in the number of inauthentic profiles, but it’s very difficult to know who is behind the fake accounts.”
TikTok has become a “bandwagon platform that rewards users for jumping unthinkingly on ascendant trends,” writes Amanda Hess for The New York Times in a breakdown of “TikTok’s Amber Heard Hate Machine.” Hess writes that figures “as innocuous as Lance Bass and the Duolingo owl mascot have thought it wise to contribute their own Heard mockery to the platform.”
The reaction wasn’t limited to TikTok. Vice also reported that conservative media outlet The Daily Wire “spent between $35,000 and $47,000 on Facebook and Instagram ads” promoting pro-Depp articles about the trial.