Supermodel Chrissy Teigen set off a backlash of hate and vitriol with a Tweet that compared gun violence in America to the recent shooting in Ottawa, Canada.
Her tweet was popular among her followers but it unleashed a “sea of hate and anger” from Twitter users that ranged from calls for her to “rot in hell” to assaults on her intelligence as just a “dumb model.” One pundit jumped on the bandwagon to reduce Teigen to that stereotype. “She is known for obviously her lovely bottom and her food Instagram pictures, ” said Fox News’ Andrea Tantaros. “This is the problem when models start to talk. It plays into the dumb model stereotype.”
The incident and the furor that it caused harks back to another woman whose recent claims of cyber-bullying have taken the spotlight. Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky said at a Forbes conference on Monday that she “was Patient Zero, the first person to have their reputation completely destroyed by the Internet.”
“I want to put my suffering to good use and a purpose to my past,” she added. After keeping a low profile for many years, Lewinsky reemerged this week as an advocate against cyber-bulling and a new member of Twitter.
In Teigen’s case, her husband, John Legend, also became the target of social media ire. After a Twitter user called for his murder, the model sent out the message “I feel sick. Bye Twitter,” though she has not deactivated her account.
With nearly 271 million monthly active Twitter users and 1.32 billion monthly active users on Facebook, cyber-bullying is a growing problem for everyone from school children to Hollywood stars. A recent Pew Research study found that 40% of adult internet users have experienced some type of online harassment. The worst of the abuse has allegedly contributed to suicides, such as in the case of 12-year-old Rebecca Anna Sedwick.