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The Hailey Bieber Witch-Hunt: Why Brands Need To Stop Capitalising On ‘Female Rivalry’ For Social Media Marketing

The Hailey Bieber Witch-Hunt: Why Brands Need To Stop Capitalising On ‘Female Rivalry’ For Social Media Marketing

From suspiciously-timed photos of eyebrows on Instagram stories to shady comments under TikTok videos, the alleged feud between Selena Gomez and Hailey Bieber has dominated social media for the past month. And while there is no denying that internet users have fanned the flames of hostility between the two women, brands have also jumped on board – with many companies taking a side in the drama on their social media accounts.  

Justin Bieber stan account @sophiarauhls has recently gone viral on Twitter for a thread documenting the brands that have shaded Hailey. Amassing 6.1 million views in just three days, with 15.4K likes and 2.2K retweets, the thread is making waves across the platform. 

“Since it’s women’s history month here’s every brand/company that has disgracefully engaged in the recent witchhunt of hailey bieber,” the thread begins. 

@sophiarauhls goes on to list numerous brands that have made snide comments about the drama, starting with a TikTok posted by Duolingo. 

“I’m not saying she deserves it, but God’s timing is always right”, the text reads as the Duolingo owl points to an evidence board that includes pictures and screenshots of Selena and Hailey over the years.

Adding more fuel to the fire, Justin Bieber’s 2012 song, ‘Beauty and A Beat,’ plays in the background, specifically the iconic line from Nicki Minaj’s verse, “But I gotta keep an eye out for Selener.” 

The video’s text references a now-deleted TikTok, where Hailey, Kendall Jenner, and Justine Skye lip-synced to the famous audio with the same exact phrasing. Clearly, this TikTok didn’t reference Selena directly. However, many internet users believed it was a dig at the actress, given that Selena was facing an onslaught of body-shaming comments when she initially posted the video. 

FaceTune was another prominent company among the brands featured in @sophiarauhls’ thread. The photo-editing app posted a TikTok on February 27 using the software’s “vanish tool” to remove Hailey from a photo with Selena. 

As you scroll through the thread’s quote tweets and the comments under each post, many internet users praise the brands for shading Hailey. And while we must stand up to bullying and so-called mean girls, we should question the lengths these companies go to for views – especially when it involves this level of public scrutiny. 

Pop culture reporter, Kat Tenbarge, took to Twitter to share this view, writing, “The danger of social media marketing where brands take on ‘personalities’ and comment on the latest trends is that these brands keep instigating and piling on to harassment campaigns.” 

Kat goes on to note how the brands “predominantly targeted at women’s insecurities have taken a malicious angle” by using the Selena-Hailey drama to market their products – something she claims is “aimed at sowing division between women.” 

Following this train of thought, other Twitter users have likened the attack on Hailey to that of Amber Heard during her defamation trial against Johnny Depp. 

There is no denying that the Hailey-Selena saga is very different to Amber’s situation, where comparisons between the two trivialise the seriousness of domestic abuse. However, as brands continue to pile on the hate, it’s clear that internet users have an obsession with collectively ganging up and humiliating women. 

“Celebrities need to start suing brands and companies back into fear again,” Twitter user @lovingheard writes. “I’ve seen one too many professional bodies participate in misogynistic witch hunts over the past couple of years, thinking they’re funny.” 

Duolingo, for instance, sided with the anti-Amber mob during the height of the trial last year. The app came under fire after the brand’s account left a “joke” about Amber under a TikTok posted by NBC News

While on the stand, Amber implied that she was being bullied on social media and said, “You can look either of us up online and figure out who’s being abused.”


“You’re here in this courtroom because Mr. Depp finally told the world that he is a victim of domestic violence,” JohnnyDepp’s lawyer says to #AmberHeard during the first day of her cross examination.

♬ original sound – nbcnews

Duolingo then commented on the video, “Y’all think amber watches tiktok?”

Many internet users criticised the company for the comment, questioning why a language-learning app was capitalising upon a legal case for relevancy and traction online. Zaria Parvez, the employee who left the comment, later apologised on her personal Twitter. 

While Amber and Hailey were being scrutinised online, the men in each scenario got off relatively scot-free. Justin, for instance, has received far less criticism than his wife by internet users and companies alike. 

With social media making the Justin-Hailey-Selena love triangle only about the women involved, this saga serves as a sobering reminder of pop culture’s obsession with female rivalry. As brands continue to pit these women against each other, they strip Selena and Hailey of their accomplishments and goals, positioning them as superficial people who only exist to appeal to men. 

And unfortunately, TikTok has only made things worse. With the algorithm democratising virality, brands that feed into the app’s mob mentality are rewarded with clicks, views, and likes. That said, companies taking advantage of the drama and shading Hailey are setting a dangerous precedent where viral fame becomes synonymous with misogynistic content. 

As the Selena-Hailey saga (hopefully) comes to a close, one thing remains clear. We, as internet users, must stop encouraging this type of brand behaviour and marketing online.

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