The internet can be a dangerous place – especially when stories start escalating without any solid facts or evidence. A recent viral outburst, regarding British YouTuber Marina Joyce, 19, demonstrates just how quickly reckless hearsay can get out of hand.
The topic flying around (spread mostly by youngsters) surrounded the concerning and out-of-character behaviour in Joyce’s recent videos. Twitter blew up with the whole story, with the hashtag #savemarinajoyce running riot. Three main conspiracies came into play: was she on drugs, had she been kidnapped or was she being abused?
It all started when the popular fashion vlogger uploaded a video the past weekend. Bear in mind, she vlogs on a regular basis, meaning her subscribers are more than tuned in to any shifts from the norm. Though normally very spirited and engaged, her behaviour was disturbing – even to a new viewer. Wide eyes, a sense of distraction and silent staring, not to mention constantly repeating herself, especially the products she was promoting. Seemingly all the hallmarks of drug abuse.
People started talking and digging. Things took a turn for the worse when her recent videos started getting dissected and conspiracies manifested – particularly one in which people claim she said the words ‘help me’. Over two million people were tweeting on the topic, ‘evidence’ Instagrams were set up and trolls sickly claimed she was dead.
Despite Joyce tweeting that she was ok, people still theorised she was being forced to say that. Her favoriting tweets questioning her safety didn’t exactly put out the fire. Amidst all this, people still made jokes, making it hard to take it all seriously. One of the theories was that she was in a physically abusive relationship (something her and her mother have since denied), due to splatters of bruising on her arms and rest of body, the sighting of a pistol in one video and her peculiar behaviour.
Another far-out theory involving ISIS scare-mongered the masses. Joyce vlogged and tweeted about a 6.30am meet up in a not-so-safe area of London. Firstly, it was a bit of a strange time to meet up, secondly, audiences theorised that she was saying ‘don’t go’ in sign language. To top it off, she randomly tweeted ‘Hope everyone likes pancakes’, with many stating the acronym was coding for the word ‘help’.
Naturally, every tweet, move or vlog from then on was analysed, theorised and put forward as further evidence that she was in danger. Pretty serious stuff. The allegations even led to the police getting involved (who confirmed she was fine) as well as her mother, who described the whole mystery as a ‘frenzy’, before explaining that that the gun was in fact a toy bb gun belonging to another of her kids and that the ‘help me’ in the vlog was actually her telling her daughter to ‘stand like me’. To force the point home that she really was ok, Marina even did a Livestream (a still peculiar one at that), declaring that she was safe and well.
The jury’s still out amongst the internet detectives, but this story sure acts as a warning about the dangers that come with being an online personality…