Chrissy Teigen’s Team Says Direct Messages Shared by Michael Costello Were Fake
Teigen’s team accused the designer of faking the screenshots a day after a report from Insider found several “technical inconsistencies” in the photos.
Chrissy Teigen Accused of Bullying Michael Costello
Model Chrissy Teigen released a statement from her team on Friday denying the authenticity of screenshots designer Michael Costello shared last week depicting Teigen bullying him and threatening his career.
Costello’s claims against Teigen came just after she apologized for past offensive social media remarks she made. Those remarks included hateful comments directed at then-16-year-old Courtney Stodden, who received an onslaught of negative press for marrying a 51-year-old man a decade ago. Hours after posting her apology, Costello said he, too, was a victim of Teigen’s online persecution in 2014.
Costello wrote that Teigen attacked him online when a screenshot allegedly showing him making a racist comment was circulating. He claims that the screenshot was fake, but even after he told Teigen this, he alleges that she and her stylist Monica Rose continued to berate him and threaten his career. In his post, he said this drove him to have suicidal thoughts.
He also shared alleged screenshots of direct messages that depicted Teigen telling him his career was dead and that he deserves to “suffer and die.” His post ignited a swift round of backlash and outrage against Teigen and caught the attention of several major news outlets.
Investigations Finds That the Screenshots Were Faked
A Thursday report from Insider alleged that those conversations had been doctored. The investigation found “technical inconsistencies in the purported DMs that could suggest they are manipulated.”
“Several visual identifiers in the images appear to come from various iterations of Instagram and Teigen’s profile throughout the years, which is oftentimes a signature of manipulated imagery,” the article continued.
According to Insider, the screenshot looks like it was taken in 2014, as Teigen did not have a verified check, a status she received early in 2015. However, the message backgrounds in the image have a purple and blue gradient, which did not exist in Instagram until 2020. There is also a video chat icon on top of their chat, a feature that was not introduced until 2018. The photo that appears for Teigen is also her profile picture from 2014. If Costello had gone back and taken that screenshot recently, her current profile picture would have been visible instead of her old one, and again, her verification would be visible.
Teigen shot back on social media Friday, sharing a statement that addressed the inconsistencies noted in the Insider article. The statement, which was written on Teigen’s behalf, also claimed that in early iterations of the screenshots, Teigen’s name had been spelled incorrectly.
“Chrissy is completely surprised and disappointed by Michael Costello’s recent attack, which includes fictional ‘screenshots’ from 2014 of supposed private messages that Chrissy did not send,” the statement said.
According to the statement, Teigen did comment on one of Costello’s posts in 2014 after he was accused of making a racist remark, but she deleted that comment upon learning that the remark was photoshopped. It also claims that Teigen did not work with Rose until 2016, two years after Costello claims he was victimized by her.
Teigen went on to share screenshots of messages the two had exchanged online, which were largely complementary. In one message, Costello praises her lipstick choice. In another, he admires a meal she cooked. Teigen claimed she was under the impression she had a cordial relationship with him.
“Chrissy has acknowledged her past behavior and the pain she has caused but will not stand for anyone spreading false accusations to further demean her name and reputation,” the statement continued. “Chrissy will continue to do the work she needs to do to be the best person she can be. She hopes Michael Costello can do the same.”
“Chrissy has every right to correct the record and defend her name. She is not interested in making Mr. Costello the target of harassment or abuse for anyone claiming to support her.”
Teigen’s husband, singer John Legend, also defended her, saying he had no idea why someone would insert themselves into an already complicated narrative.
“I encourage everyone who breathlessly spread this lie to keep that same energy when they correct the record,” he wrote.
Costello Doubles Down
Since he came out against Teigen, several people have accused Costello of misconduct. A makeup artist who was undergoing chemotherapy said he was sexually harassed by Costello, singer Leona Lewis said he body-shamed her, and a woman who sold him something online said he called her the n-word.
Costello has deleted his original post accusing Teigen of bullying him, which included the allegedly doctored screenshots, though he doubled down on his claim that Teigen tried to ruin his career in a post shared Friday.
“The fact that Chrissy Tiegen and her crisis team are working so hard, so strategically, to come out against the DMs she sent me, and to downplay the comments she publicly posted on my Instagram, only proves that she is the same bully she always has been, despite her fake apology to the public,” he wrote.
He said this will be the last time he speaks on the issue and announced that he is taking a break from social media to aid his mental health.
See what others are saying: (Insider) (Variety) (Entertainment Weekly)
Twitch Tightens Policies on Explicit Deepfakes
“The creation, promotion, or viewing of this content is not welcome on Twitch,” the company said in a blog post.
New Rules Regarding “Synthetic NCEI”
Twitch is cracking down on explicit deepfake content and will indefinitely suspend users who share or promote it after a first offense.
“The existence of this content, and its presence and distribution on various sites, is personally violating and beyond upsetting. Deepfake porn isn’t a problem on Twitch, but it’s a terrible issue that some streamers (almost exclusively women) may face on the internet at large,” Twitch said in a Tuesday blog post, explaining it wants to “help streamers protect themselves” in any case this issue arises.
Twitch referred to this content as “synthetic non-consensual exploitative images,” or “synthetic NCEI,” but many of the platform’s users have casually referred to it as deepfake porn. Synthetic NCEI involves someone taking the face of another person and editing it into a pornographic video to make it appear as though that person filmed themselves demonstrating those sexual acts. The new rise in access to this technology has concerned many, as it is easy to use it to exploit others.
While synthetic NCEI is already banned on Twitch, the company took a more actionable step against it in its Tuesday post by creating an Adult Sexual Violence and Exploitation policy. The new rule prohibits the intentional sharing, promoting, or creation of synthetic NCEI and those acts can result in an indefinite suspension on the first offense.
Twitch also updated its Adult Nudity policy to include synthetic NCEI. Even if it is only shown briefly, that content will still be taken down and result in an enforcement.
In addition to the policy changes, Twitch made available a list of resources for those who might be impacted by or wish to learn more about synthetic NCEI.
“The creation, promotion, or viewing of this content is not welcome on Twitch,” the company said closing its blog post.
Growing Concerns About Explicit Deepfakes
Twitch’s updates come as synthetic NCEI and deepfakes have become a primary topic of concern for social media platforms. Earlier this year, Twitch was home to a major deepfake controversy after a streamer known as Atrioc was caught with an open tab to a website that hosted these videos. That site specifically hosted deepfakes of female Twitch streamers, some of whom were Atrioc’s colleagues.
Many women featured on the page spoke out against these deepfakes, explaining the trauma they endured knowing their face, image, and likeness were used in a sexual manner without their consent. It’s an issue that extends far past Twitch creators. Some fear they could be used for revenge porn, and there are already several cases where the technology is used to create sexual videos of celebrities.
On Tuesday, NBC News published a report finding that Facebook and Instagram ran suggestive ads featuring deepfakes of actresses like Emma Watson and Scarlett Johansson. The ads were for a deepfake app that told users they could “replace face with anyone.”
While the ads did not show explicit pornographic content, one ad featuring Watson was clearly meant to mimic the start of an explicit video, suggesting a sexual act was about to start. The face of the “Harry Potter” actress was seen looking into the camera before bending down.
The report found that 127 ads with Watson deepfakes and 74 with Johansson deepfakes ran across Meta’s platforms on Sunday and Monday, but have since been removed. The app in question was also removed from the Apple app store after NBC News contacted the tech giant for comment.
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Engadget) (Kotaku)
Fans Defend Pedro Pascal After Actor Refused to Read Thirst Tweets: “It’s Sexual Harassment”
Pascal has been dubbed the Internet’s “daddy,” but many think the joke has gone too far.
Pascal’s Heartthrob Status
Fans are defending actor Pedro Pascal after he refused to read thirst tweets on the red carpet, arguing that it is inappropriate and disrespectful to ask him to do so.
Pascal, the star of HBO’s “The Last of Us” and Disney+’s “The Mandalorian,” has become a major Hollywood heartthrob. He has even been widely dubbed as the Internet’s “daddy” by those posting about his handsome looks. The running joke grew last year when he did a Vanity Fair lie detector test and said he considered himself a “bigger daddy” than “Star Wars” star Oscar Isaac.
“Daddy is a state of mind, you know what I’m saying? I’m your daddy,” he quipped during the interview.
Since then, TikTokers have started posting thirst trap edits of Pascal, journalists have called him “daddy” on the red carpet, and interviewers have shown him tweets where fans call him a “cool, slutty daddy.”
Pascal has been a good sport about the public displays of lust for him, but many think the joke may have crossed a line. During last week’s red carpet premiere for season three of “The Mandalorian,” an Access Hollywood reporter went viral for asking Pascal to read thirst tweets to the camera. Pascal politely declined.
“No. Dirty! Dirty!” he told the reporter after reading through the tweets.
“For your enjoyment only,” she responded.
“Thank you very much,” Pascal said before exiting the interview.
Fans Condemn Thirst Tweet Interviews
In response, many who watched the clip condemned this treatment of Pascal, arguing it promoted constant objectification.
“I think it’s time for the internet to leave Pedro Pascal alone,” one person wrote. “It’s sexual harassment, but no one seems to care bc he’s a man + is graceful about it. It’s really gross and I would never want to be treated like that.”
“These jokes have gone way too far and he’s visibly uncomfortable,” another fan added.
Some claimed that while the Internet’s love of Pascal “started as harmless fun…the constant public objectification and sexualization must be terrible” and should stop.
“Being attractive, banking on it, selling it, and even at times enjoying some of the attention, doesn’t give everyone wholesale permission to sexualize you,” someone else argued.
See what others are saying: (IndieWire) (The Gamer) (BuzzFeed News)
Conservatives Pledge to #BoycottHershey After International Women’s Day Campaign Featured a Trans Woman
“I hope this campaign shows trans girls they can dream big and change the world too,” activist Fae Johnstone said in her Hers for She video.
Hershey Highlights Fae Johnstone
Step aside, Green M&M. Conservatives have a new candy that they’re mad at: Hershey bars.
On Wednesday, Hershey Canada unveiled its “Her for She” International Women’s Day initiative, which aims to celebrate “women changing the future.” Conservatives were quickly outraged by the company’s choice to highlight Fae Johnstone, a trans woman and LGBTQ+ rights activist, as part of this effort.
“We can create a world where everyone is able to live in public space as their honest and authentic selves,” Johnstone said in a “Her for She” video.
In addition to Johnstone, the campaign features gender equality activists, a climate tech researcher, and an indigenous rights activist, all of whom have fought for progress in their respective fields. The women will appear on Hershey’s websites, in marketing promotions, and in artistic renderings on Hershey bar wrappers.
Johnstone wrote on Twitter that she hopes Hershey’s campaign will “give more young women and girls role models” who can demonstrate how to “change the world, together.”
“It also means a lot to be included, as a young(ish?) trans woman,” Johnstone continued. “I grew up with few trans role models. Many young trans folks haven’t met a trans adult. I hope this campaign shows trans girls they can dream big and change the world too.”
A Swift Transphobic Backlash
This decision, however, prompted right-wing Twitter users to accuse Hershey of hating “real” women. Many of the posts included blatantly transphobic rhetoric, as well as promises to boycott the company because it went “woke.”
The outrage was so prominent that #BoycottHershey was one of the top Twitter trends on Thursday morning.
This backlash comes just a little over a month after conservative media figures like Tucker Carlson slammed M&M for making the green mascot character, well, less sexy.
In response to Mars changing the green candy’s outfit, Carlson accused the Mars company of making its characters “as unattractive as possible because when you’re intentionally repulsive, it’s clear you’ve got the right politics.”
Not long after the right-wing backlash, M&M opted to replace its “spokescandies” with actress Maya Rudolph.
The conservative outrage targeted at both Hershey and M&M is part of a larger culture war against any company that makes changes to address diversity, climate change, or other social issues. Brands like Xbox, “Sesame Street,” and more have at one point provoked the ire of Fox News hosts and other Republican figures.
In fact, their outrage against these progressive changes has become so common that once #BoycottHershey was trending, some tweeted that they did not even have to click on the hashtag “to know that they must have done something compassionate that the right hates.”