A teenage girl who received death threats on Instagram became the subject of site-wide backlash on überaggregator hivemind Reddit Monday afternoon.
Zoe Crabtree, who posts on Instagram as drowning_out_at_sea, has, like many other users, a photo feed comprising pictures of herself, her family, twee PostSecret-style hand-drawn messages, and, sadly, close-ups of shallow cut marks on her body. She writes openly of her desire to be thin.
She also has an anti–Zoe Crabtree hate account called “zoeisafuckingwhore,” whose information reads, “Hey okay. So there’s this girl named Zoe. Or drowning_out_at_sea I hate her ugly ass. Let’s see if we can get her to kill herself ”
It’s an active account, posting images of Zoe’s face with captions and messages such as these:
On Tuesday night, a Redditor posted a screencap of the “zoeisafuckingwhore” account, writing, “I was just browsing Instagram when I saw this. Made me say ‘What in the actual fuck?’ Since WHEN has this sort of behavior been acceptable?”
Most of the response was positive. “Teenagers are the worst creatures ever” is the top-voted comment. Many users wrote to pledge support, telling Zoe, “I was bullied too” and “Life gets better.” Zoe eventually found the post and wrote thank-yous to her supporters. She also sent in timestamped proof of her identity, writing on Reddit, “I was honestly contemplating suicide. I have attempted in the past so I was not afraid to try again. But with the love and support of amazing people like you guys, Im still here.”
Naturally, the wave of backlash came hard. Many Redditors suggested that Zoe herself created the hate account. The evidence? An side-by-side comparison of Zoe’s and the hate account’s handwriting, posted in the thread and then crossposted to r/karmaconspiracy, a subreddit devoted to Reddit frauds.
The floodgates were broken. More Redditors piled on, and the attitude turned sour:
The angry messages spread to Instagram:
Zoe repeatedly denied faking the account but didn’t provide proof. She may have felt she didn’t need to. She didn’t know the identity of the hate account, she said, but she had a guess — the girl had physically assaulted her before. As for the handwriting, the logic there — comparing letters drawn with MS Paint or Photoshop to a handwritten note — is suspect. The letters hardly look similar, but in both samples, the figures slant to the left. Many letters, such as the capital Z, are distinctly different. It’s flimsy evidence.
One Redditor, mcthomp, wrote what in most communities might be a rational response to a volatile situation involving suicidal teens and harassment:
It’s absolutely imperative we avoid making a big deal out of this. We have no real evidence. We run the risk of ganging up on somebody who may actually be dealing with an abusive cunt who is preying on her insecurities. I’d rather we play into somebody’s online scam for attention than make the mistake of falsely accusing a potentially emotionally fragile girl of “making it all up.”
“I do what I want to,” someone responded.
UPDATE: While the original thread has firmly settled on a verdict, the highly cynical r/karmaconspiracy is leading something like a backlash backlash: