Let’s be clear from the outset: Chrissy Teigen was not on Jeffrey Epstein’s flight logs. There is literally nothing connecting the actress and model to the horrible story of the depraved sex offender and accused trafficker. There are many, many people who must answer serious questions about their involvement with Epstein’s reign of terror. Teigen just isn’t one of them.
And yet, that’s not the story many are telling. Conspiracy theory outlet Infowars, right-wing personalities Candace Owens and James Woods, far-right message boards, and multiple supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory with major followings have been spinning a completely false narrative accusing Teigen of collaborating with the now-deceased Epstein and being involved with pedophilia. There’s no actual evidence, so instead people point to things like Teigen once dressing her child as a hot dog and tweets from her mentioning pizza.
The entire episode is an extension of the Gamergate harassment that plagued people including Leslie Jones -- with the help of websites like Breitbart and troll Milo Yiannopoulos. (Yiannopoulos has since been exiled from most corners of the internet, while Breitbart was rewarded with a spot in Facebook’s news tab.) Yiannopoulos has pushed the Teigen conspiracy theories as well.
Harassment of Teigen has increased since Epstein collaborator Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested on charges of involvement with his sex-trafficking operation.
Teigen reportedly has blocked over 1 million accounts on Twitter in response.
But there have been many posts on the topic on Facebook as well.
We searched a collection of 384 right-leaning Facebook pages with over 500,000 page likes and found that eight of the 10 posts with the most interactions in the past 24 hours promote or mention the conspiracy theory about Teigen and Epstein.
And, notably, one of the posts is from Breitbart. It perfectly illustrates the sort of sleight of hand (or put another way, the complete lack of moderation) going on: The headline and piece are factual, but the top comments on that post, which have all received substantial engagement, are explicitly in favor of this harassment campaign, and Breitbart has chosen to leave them. The point is that, regardless of intent, Breitbart’s posts are fuel for the harassment campaign on Facebook.
Furthermore, Media Matters reviewed posts shared on Facebook in the past seven days and found that mentions of the conspiracy theory are spiking, with an average of over 375 interactions per Facebook post in the last week -- and significantly higher interactions in the last two days.
The conspiracy theory is on TikTok as well. This video about the conspiracy theory has nearly 37,000 views, and there are a number of smaller videos as well.
On YouTube, one video about the conspiracy theory has over 80,000 views. There are others with smaller numbers.
This isn’t going to stop. Even if, in the best case scenario, all of these examples are deemed to be violations of the platforms’ terms of service, there will be another incident down the line. Because these social media platforms want companies like Breitbart to use their sites -- despite the history of targeted harassment. Everything is Gamergate now.