Reactionary conservative misinformation hub The Daily Wire is shelling out large sums of ad money to promote misogynistic, skewed pro-Johnny Depp content during the actor’s ongoing defamation trial with ex-wife, Amber Heard, according to recent evidence from a collaboration between Vice World News and nonprofit group The Citizens. So far, the media site has spent somewhere between $35,000 and $47,000 on this content — the majority of which was dedicated to pushing an article called “The Attempted Character Assassination of Johnny Depp” by Candace “Blexit” Owens.
Founded by former Breitbart News editor and still-transphobic, height-conscious pundit Ben Shapiro, The Daily Wire is consistently one of Facebook’s most popular news publications, often taking the top spot on the platform while peddling a variety of virulently anti-queer, anti-abortion, racist, and misogynistic content that extremism experts warn can help further radicalize susceptible Americans. By weaponizing social media platforms’ oversized promotion of Depp-Heard content, conservative organizations like The Daily Wire are able to peddle their ideologies to even wider audiences than normal... and comparatively cheaply, too.
The gossip rages on — Despite an ongoing, deadly pandemic and the continuing high-stakes geopolitical crises unfolding overseas, the internet remains measurably more concerned with who pooped in some celebrity's bed. Part of this is undeniably due to America’s unhealthy fascination with celebrities, but it is further fueled by content creators, influencers, and bad faith actors manipulating social media algorithms to promote clickbait content concerning Depp and Heard’s continuing trial regarding accusations of domestic abuse and defamation.
Facebook doesn’t reward quality or accuracy — it only rewards interaction and ad traffic. It’s really as simple as that, and sites like The Daily Wire know this, so they push out inflammatory content to draw in readers, no matter how distasteful or offensive. Until social media platforms fix their algorithms, they will continue to be overrun by misinformation and content peddling awful stances that could further radicalize susceptible audiences.