On July 13th, influencer and celebrity news account Def Noodles was permanently suspended from Twitter. According to a Twitter spokesperson, the account, run by commentary YouTuber Dennis Feitosa, violated the platform’s rules though they wouldn’t specify which ones. Dennis claims he did not receive an email or warning from Twitter prior to the permanent suspension.
With over 158,000 followers and counting, the Def Noodles account became a staple in the internet drama community this year— helping break several stories that contributed to important conversations around creator accountability, stan culture, and social media politics. Though sometimes criticised for his tendency to get defensive when presented with feedback, including feedback on instances when he reported on false stories, Dennis’ timely receipt-gathering and frequent posting style provided valuable resources for internet culture reporters determined to bring gravity to an otherwise underrated category of journalism.
Twitter’s apparent lack of explanation for permanently suspending the Def Noodles account has led to speculation that some major influencers may have been involved. In his July 2nd comeback video, James Charles called out a drama channel for aggregating a Twitter thread of allegations that he sexted minors— many of which he maintains are false. Though James refused to name the drama channel, it’s assumed he was referring to Def Noodles who complied a thread earlier this year with 20 accusations. Dennis pinned the thread at the top of his Twitter page following James’ video.
The day prior to his suspension, Dennis also posted a video of Addison Rae as a freshman in college in which it appeared the TikTok star was attempting to use her clout to get into a bar. She apparently had around 500,000 TikTok followers at the time. According to Dennis, Addison’s PR team was desperately trying to scrub the video from the internet.
The theory that James, Addison, or any other major influencer might have been involved in striking the Def Noodles account points to the troubling reality that social media platforms are at the mercy of their biggest creators regardless of how these creators conduct themselves.
When Vlog Squad leader David Dobrik faced serious allegations earlier this year for helping facilitate a sexual assault and filming it for his vlog, YouTube temporarily disabled monetisation on his channel rather than removing his channel altogether — a slap on the wrist considering he posted the vlog to their platform. The alleged assaulter, Dominykas “Durte Dom” Zeglaitis, also faced temporary demonetisation of his YouTube channel and was not removed from the platform either.
Regardless of their actions, YouTube relies on creators like David Dobrik and The Vlog Squad to create content that brings in millions of users and thus millions of advertising dollars. It is no surprise that controversial content brings in more views, so platforms must toe the line between rewarding content that is edgy enough while ensuring there is minimal PR fallout that might alert advertisers to the type of content their brand is actually endorsing. It’s a cycle of competing motivations that platforms have struggled to reconcile for years.
Influencer watchdog accounts, however, threaten this model, drawing attention to controversial content and behaviour while emphasising the role these companies play in providing problematic creators with a platform. In the case of Def Noodles, Twitter’s reputation was put at risk when James Charles told his millions of subscribers that the thread of grooming allegations compiled by Dennis was fake news.
It’s also a possibility that James or Addison Rae’s management teams inserted themselves to control their client’s image. While hundreds of tea accounts exist online, Def Noodles was unique in his instantaneous posting style. The speed and frequency at which he posted occasionally left room for fact-checking errors, however, it also allowed fans the opportunity to access information before PR teams could twist the narrative or strike receipts from the internet completely.
Another drama account with a similar posting style is the wildly successful Gen Z Instagram account, TikTok Room. Sharing the latest TikTok news in real-time via Instagram posts, TikTok Room has been credited with spotlighting a new generation of creators including Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae. Earlier this month, TikTok Room was surprisingly removed from Instagram with over 2 million followers. It’s unclear whether the account was disabled by Instagram or the TikTok Room admins themselves, however, the account has faced ongoing issues with temporary suspensions and alleged guideline violations since its inception. Like Def Noodles, the account had become an important source for internet culture reporting in the last year, helping to propel this genre into the mainstream media circuit and contributing to both the rise and fall of countless TikTok stars.
While TikTok Room has re-emerged under a new handle, the account has only just cracked 10,000 followers at the time of publication— a massive blow to the account’s influence and authority in the space, which may have been the point.
Def Noodles, TikTok Room, and other tea accounts are imperative to the social media ecosystem. They help democratise the creator economy and equalise the power imbalance between influencers and fans by providing necessary information to the public about who we support with our views, follows, and money. These independent accounts pioneered digital culture reporting years before media outlets covered this industry, having paved the way for a new wave of journalism focused on holding creators and platforms accountable.
But as internet culture has become increasingly prevalent in mainstream media, the industry’s key players are becoming increasingly desperate to maintain control of the narrative, putting watchdog accounts at risk of termination to suppress the circulation of unfiltered information.
Because while social media platforms may be at the mercy of their biggest creators, reporters are at the mercy of the social media platforms we’re tasked to analyse.
Def Noodles may be the first major commentary account to face permanent suspension for breaking ambiguous guidelines that Twitter refuses to clarify, but he likely won’t be the last.