Two people posted videos accusing social-justice TikToker Lance Tsosie of cheating.
The internet quickly turned on him and his accusers, sparking backlash and mockery.
Experts say seeking justice online can have detrimental consequences for all involved.
Three TikTokers have become embroiled in a controversy involving accusations of cheating and lying that have played out very publicly on social media.
Lance Tsosie, an anti-racism activist and TikToker with 2.7 million followers, was accused by two people who said they dated him of having sex with multiple partners behind their backs.
The accusations against Tsosie are not criminal in nature, but that didn’t stop social-media users from taking sides, and ultimately turning on all parties involved. Tsosie lost half a million followers after the allegations were made, while Chelsea Hart, one of the people who spoke out against Tsosie, has been berated online by people mocking their since-deleted emotional outbursts on camera.
The saga highlights the complications when people fall out in public, mirrored in previous high-profile disputes. In January, multiple women in New York banded together to work out they had all dated — and been subsequently ghosted by — a man who was dubbed “West Elm Caleb.” The story highlighted issues with both modern dating culture and online sleuthing, but it all came at the cost of Caleb’s privacy.
Steven Buckley, PhD, a researcher of internet culture, told Insider authenticity has become “one of the main currencies in digital communication,” but this comes with complications.
By sharing their lives on the internet, creators open themselves up “not only to sympathetic comments of fans who try to salve these wounds, but also to the trolls and haters who wish to only pour salt into an already painful experience,” he said.
When they date each other, influencers may find their relationship with their fans becomes more intimate, he added, which breeds both positive and negative reactions from all sides. In this case, an attempt to expose a social-justice TikToker for alleged bad behavior demonstrated how these types of videos can have detrimental effects for all involved.
It all started with a cheating allegation
On March 2, Hart, who uses “they” and “them” pronouns, posted a series of TikTok videos which were seen by Insider, saying they had been pursuing a long-term relationship with Tsosie over the past six months until they found out he was secretly having unprotected sex with other women. These videos have since been deleted.
Hart accused Tsosie of feeling “entitled to my body” and said they would not have consented to the encounter had they known he was seeing other people.
Tsosie did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
A second woman came forward with accusations, and a few broke out between the two
Marie, who did not reply to Insider’s request for comment, said her and Hart’s stories were “identical,” adding that Tsosie had unprotected sex with her after claiming he wasn’t having sex with anyone else — a scenario she described as robbing her of the opportunity to give “informed consent,” which sparked debate in the comments section as some people perceived it as an accusation of sexual misconduct.
Catalina Goanta, an associate professor at Utrecht University who has specialized in researching the legal implications of cancel culture, told Insider that while Tsosie dating multiple women is not illegal, if Hart or Marie had gotten an STD or fallen pregnant, they could claim they had suffered a financial loss, for psychological or physical treatment, or all of the costs that come with raising a child.
Marie’s TikTok account has since been made private so her videos cannot be seen on her page, but Hart reshared it with the caption, “another woman he lied to.”
The two women did not appear to form a bond over their similar accusations, however. A video purported to be made by Marie circulated on TikTok on March 5. In it, Marie accused Hart of “using this moment” to defame Tsosie and gain followers.
In the video, she claimed that Hart has been calling her and “pressuring” her to post more videos to get “attention,” and accused Hart of going public “to get your support, to get your sympathy, and to get followers.”
Hard did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The videos led to public mockery and derision towards all involved
The controversy received a huge amount of attention on TikTok, as people debated who was in the wrong, and multiple re-uploads and recaps of the since-deleted posts have been viewed millions of times.
A week after the first accusations were made, Tsosie’s follower count had dropped from 3.2 million to 2.7 million on TikTok, according to analytics website SocialBlade.
They gained 100,000 followers after posting their first TikTok, but had lost them all again by the end of the week after accusations of “clout chasing” and receiving backlash for their intensely emotional TikToks.
Their initial video, for instance, was mocked and made into a meme, in particular the phrase “ache that lives deep in my womb, Lance,” which has been repeatedly misquoted and joked about as “womblands.”
Both Hart and Tsosie have built their large followings from calling out harmful, problematic, racist, and sexist behavior on the internet, which may have opened them up to extra levels of scrutiny and criticism when they brought their personal problems to the public.
Rachael Kent, a researcher in digital health and the digital economy at King’s College London told Insider this reaction showed the precarious nature of being an influencer and sharing your life online — there’s no way to know how an audience will react, or if they will take your side.
Goanta said recent cases where people have taken to TikTok to accuse people of bad behavior show justice takes many forms on the internet.
“Social media has opened the gateway to making justice visible,” Goanta said. “But then the question is, what kind of justice is this?”
Read the original article on Insider