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Charges Dropped Against Jussie Smollett

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  • Charges were dropped against actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of staging an attack against himself.
  • Both he and his attorneys have released statements maintaining his innocence.
  • Meanwhile, the Chicago Police and Mayor believe justice was not served in this case.

Charges Dropped

Charges against actor Jussie Smollett have been dropped by Chicago prosecutors.

Less than two weeks ago, Smollett pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of disorderly conduct for falsifying a police report. The actor from FOX’s show, Empire, was accused of staging a hate crime against himself in January.

Smollett told police that two men beat him, used racial and homophobic slurs, tied a rope around his neck, and poured bleach on him. Police later said that Smollett staged the attack and paid the two men to do so. Smollett has maintained his innocence.

On Tuesday morning, he appeared in court in Chicago for an emergency hearing. He agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond to the city of Chicago. All charges were dropped against him, his record was expunged, and the court records were sealed.

Kim Foxx, a Cook County state attorney, released a statement calling this an appropriate resolution.

“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case,” her statement read, “including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case.”

Right now, it is unclear what prompted prosecutors to call the emergency hearing and drop the charges. According to a report from TMZ, questions arose regarding the check police alleged Smollet paid the attackers. The check may have actually been used to pay for physical training. This report, however, is unverified.

First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats told the Chicago Sun-Times that this decision does not mean there were flaws in the case against Smollett.

“We stand behind the CPD investigation done in this case, we stand behind the approval of charges in this case…They did a fantastic job. The fact there was an alternative disposition in this case is not and should not be viewed as some kind of admission there was something wrong with the case, or something wrong with the investigation that the Chicago Police did.”

Smollett and His Team Respond

Smollett’s attorneys also released a statement where they claimed Smollett was the victim, and was falsely vilified.

“Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgement.”

“Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions. This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion.”

Smollett also spoke out himself in a press briefing outside the courthouse on Tuesday.

“I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain,” he told reporters.  “I’ve been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one. I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I have been accused of.”

Chicago Police and Mayor Respond

Chicago Police Commander Ed Wodnicki called the prosecutor’s choice to drop charges a “kick in the gut.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also disagreed with their decision, calling it “whitewashed.”

“This is without a doubt a whitewash of justice,” he said during a press conference. “And sends a clear message that if you’re in a position of influence or power you will be treated one way. Other people will be treated another way. There is no accountability in the system.”

See What Others Are Saying: (Chicago Sun Times) (CBS Chicago) (CNN)

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Why Twitter Tried to Cancel Lil Nas X

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  • #LilNasXIsOverParty was trending on Twitter this weekend after users shared screenshots of Islamaphobic tweets they claim came from an old Nicki Minaj stan account he used to run.
  • However, people are doubting the validity of this account, as it is unclear if he actually ran it.
  • Some argue that either way, this is another example of people trying to cancel an artist on the rise.
  • Lil Nas X has not addressed whether or not the account was his, though he has acknowledged the hashtag on Twitter.

#LilNasXIsOverParty Trends on Twitter

#LilNasXIsOverParty was trending on Twitter over the weekend after Islamaphobic tweets from a Nicki Minaj stan account that many claim Lil Nas X used to run resurfaced. However, social media users are unsure if the “Old Town Road” singer is actually the person behind the account.

The trend followed the release of Lil Nas X’s new EP “7″, which came out on Friday. The tweets came from an account called Nasmaraj. They included insinuations that Islam is a violent religion, as well as remarks about the bombing that occurred in 2017 at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

The account has since been suspended, with many reports claiming the reason behind this was TweetDecking. TweetDecking is when accounts copy viral content in mass.

Still, when people saw these screenshots, many took offense. Some asked what was wrong with the singer, while others spoke against Islamaphobia.

However, some people thought this was a case of people taking cancel culture too far, and said that they just wanted to attack an up-and-coming artist.

A tweet that no longer appears on Lil Nas X’s page also came up. In May, it appears he acknowledged his past and said he had grown.

Debates Over Account Legitamacy

One of the biggest questions people had about the tweets, however, was if they really came from Lil Nas X. Many users debated whether or not he was behind the Nasmaraj account.

Some claimed the account belonged to the singer, including one user who says they were a fan of his starting with that Twitter account.

A video allegedly shows someone sending a direct message to Lil Nas X, and him responding acknowledging the account.

In April, Intelligencer, a publication by New York Magazine, wrote an article claiming that the Nasmaraj account belonged to Lil Nas X. They claim a Reddit user called Nasmaraj posted content just to promote Lil Nas X. The account has since been removed, but according to Intelligencer, it pre-dated Lil Nas X’s fame, so it was unlikely that it would have been a fan account.

The report also says that after the Nasmaraj account was suspended, a new account was created by the same user, which is a common practice for meme accounts. This account was allegedly called Nasmarai.

That account now is locked and appears to be owned by a new user. However, people on Twitter pointed out that the handle used to be in Lil Nas X’s Twitter bio.

Intelligencer also said that they got the URL from an old Nasmarai tweet. They said that the digits at the end of the tweet’s URL serve as an ID, and that this ID can be used to find the current account of the user. When you type those digits into Twitter now, a tweet from Lil Nas X’s current account appears. They claim that because of this, those two accounts must be linked.

Others also claim that his current account and the Nasmarai account share the same e-mail address.

However, some don’t believe this is enough evidence to show that the Nasmaraj account was owned by Lil Nas X. Many think that he could be behind Nasmarai, but don’t see enough evidence to connect him to the problematic tweets.

According to Hot One Hip Hop, Lil Nas X’s team has also denied that he was behind the Nasmaraj account. The outlet ran an article about the Nasmaraj Twitter account, then ran a correction.

“Lil Nas X’s team has reached out to us to confirm that the Lil Nas X did not run a Nicki Minaj fanpage, despite Billboard’s initial reports,” the correction reads. The Billboard article referenced appears to have been removed.

Some people on Twitter have also pointed out that the timestamps on one of the screenshots have been different. One tweet has a date on May 30, 2017, which is a few days after the terrorist attack in Manchester. However, another screenshot dates the tweet in March, two months before the event happened.

Lil Nas X Responds

On Sunday, Lil Nas X tweeted about the trending hashtag with two memes.

On Monday, he shared an old tweet of his about people trying to “ruin other ppls career when they see them on the rise.”

Lil Nas X performed at the BET Awards on Sunday night and has not specifically addressed whether or not the Nasmaraj account belonged to him.

See what others are saying: (Uproxx) (Insider) (Intelligencer)

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Netflix Responds to Backlash Over New Prank Show Hosted By Stranger Things Star Gaten Matarazzo

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  • Netflix announced their new show, Prank Encounters, on Friday which is hosted by Stranger Things actor Gaten Matarazzo.
  • The show is set to air sometime in 2019 and is described as a hidden-camera prank show featuring people who believe they are starting their first day at a new job.  
  • People began criticizing the show’s plotline, calling it cruel to give false hope and target people who are looking for work.
  • However, Netflix assured the public that participants had a “great time” and said they “came in with the expectation this was a one-day, hourly gig and everyone got paid for their time.”

The Show

Netflix announced a new show hosted by Stranger Things actor Gaten Matarazzo on Friday and is already dealing with harsh backlash over its plotline.

In a press release, Netflix says the show, Prank Encounters, will be eight episodes long and air sometime in 2019. It goes on to note that in addition to being the host, Matarazzo is also one of the executive producers.

According to Deadline, a Netflix representative described Prank Encounters as a “terrifying and hilarious prank show.”

The spokesperson added that it “takes two complete strangers who each think they’re starting their first day at a new job. It’s business as usual until their paths collide and these part-time jobs turn into full-time nightmares”

Responses

Following the announcement, Netflix and Matarazzo faced backlash. Many were upset with the plotline, saying it preyed on people looking for work. Different media outlets like Vulture and AV Club were among the critics.

An AV writer even compared prank shows to the measles outbreak, writing: “TV prank shows are kind of like measles epidemics: They’re sudden, happen seemingly at random, and it’s hard to believe that they’re still popping up in the world in twenty-nine-f*cking-teen.”

Fans began calling out Prank Encounters, taking their outrage to Twitter.

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However, a few did support the show and asked people to at least give it a chance to air before they attack it.

Others found humor in the situation and started suggesting different show ideas for Netflix.

Netflix Defends Show

In response to the criticism, Netflix released a statement hoping to help clarify what the show is about.

“The pranks in Prank Encounters are spooky, supernatural, and over the top, and everyone had a great time,” a spokesperson for the company told reporters. “All participants came in with the expectation this was a one-day, hourly gig and everyone got paid for their time.”

However, according to BuzzFeed, Netflix declined to say how the jobs for the show were advertised. As of now, Matarazzo and his team have not made any comment.

See what others are saying: (BuzzFeed) (CNBC) (Cinema Blend)

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Bella Thorne Posts Her Own Topless Photos After Threats From Hacker

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  • Actress Bella Thorne posted topless photos of herself on social media in response to threats from a hacker who had obtained the images.
  • In an apparent message to the hacker, Throne wrote: “I can sleep tonight better knowing I took my power back. U can’t control my life u never will.”
  • Many fans have supported the move, calling Thorne brave, while others wonder if this incident is a stunt to promote her new book.

The Tweet

Actress Bella Thorne posted topless photos of herself on Twitter after a hacker threated to release the images that were stolen from her.

On Saturday, Thorne tweeted out screenshots of text messages between her and an alleged hacker, which included nude photos and videos of Thorne. Along with the photos, the actress also included a message to her fans in the tweet, explaining her decision to release the photos.

“I feel someone has taken something from me that I only wanted one special person to see,” Thorne wrote. “He has sent multiple nude photos of other celebs, he won’t stop with me or them he will just keep going.”

She continues, “for too long I let a man take advantage of me over and over and I’m f***ing sick of it, I’m putting this out because it’s MY DECISION NOW U DON’T GET TO TAKE YET ANOTHER THING FROM ME. I can sleep tonight better knowing I took my power back. U can’t control my life u never will.”

The tweet and photos come just days after Thorne’s twitter was hacked. On Thursday, the actress’ social media account was filled with racial slurs and sexually explicit messages. By the end of the day, Thorne had regained control and deleted all the tweets.

Thorne’s full statement released via Twitter.

Responses

Many of Thorne’s fans have praised her, calling her strong and brave for standing up to her hacker.

However, others have questioned her motivation and wonder if this was just a promotional scheme for her new book.

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Other Celebrity Hacking Incidents

In 2014, hundreds of private photos, including some belonging to Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and Kristen Dunst, were leaked online. According to the U.S. Justice Department, four men used various forms of fake emails to pose as security alerts from accounts to obtain login information and passwords.

They gained access to over a thousand different iCloud and Gmail accounts and were eventually charged with felony computer hacking. All four men ended up in federal prison after being found guilty or accepting a plea deal.

As for pursuing legal options in her case, Thorne says she believes her hacker is likely a minor, so she wants to try and be reasonable.

“This kid sounds like he’s 17,” she told the Hollywood Reporter. “As much as I’m so angry and wanted to f*** him up over doing this to people I just wanted to teach him a lesson. He’s still a kid and we make mistakes, this mistake is a bad one. But I don’t want some 17-year-old’s whole life ruined because he wasn’t thinking straight and [was] being a dumbass.”

“You can’t always tear someone down for their bad sides but more so build up their good sides.”

On Wednesday actress Victoria Justice also had her Twitter account hacked. She has since deleted tweets that were posted without her consent, but it is unclear if hacks against Justice and Thorne are related.

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (Entertainment Tonight) (News18)

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