On Wednesday, the model Chrissy Teigen, who had accumulated 13.7 million followers on Twitter since joining in 2009, wrote that she would be deleting her Twitter account. “Hey. For over 10 years, you guys have been my world. I honestly owe so much to this world we have created here. I truly consider so many of you my actual friends,” she wrote before leaving the platform. “But it’s time for me to say goodbye. This no longer serves me as positively as it serves me negatively, and I think that’s the right time to call something.”
The move was a surprise to many fans of Teigen, a beloved social media figure who had amassed a large following due to her earnest and goofily self-deprecating posts. But as Teigen’s popularity on Twitter grew, she had also become a target for criticism. Last month, she was lambasted for tweeting about accidentally ordering a $13,000 bottle of wine, which many perceived as tone-deaf in the context of the pandemic; as recently as Wednesday, she also drew criticism for her plant-based cleaning product partnership with Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner, with many viewing the collaboration as a cynical cash grab.
It’s unclear what, if any, specific incident precipitated Teigen’s decision to delete her Twitter. But it’s worth noting that for years, Teign had faced coordinated and incessant harassment from one particular group: QAnon believers, who responded to news of her exit from the platform with unfettered joy.
Since 2017, adherents to the baseless conspiracy theory, which posits the existence of a secret child trafficking ring made up of high-profile Democrats and celebrities, have targeted Teigen and her husband John Legend. This was largely predicated on such compelling evidence as Teigen having tweeted pizza emojis in the past (a supposed reference to the QAnon predecessor, Pizzagate), and a tongue-in-cheek joke about her discomfort watching child-pageant contestants on Toddlers and Tiaras.
QAnon supporters have also accused Teigen and Legend of appearing on the flight logs for the private plane owned by Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who died in jail August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. While there is zero evidence of this, and Teigen has never been photographed with Epstein, that hasn’t stopped QAnon supporters from trying to push this narrative by Photoshopping images of Legend and Teigen on Epstein’s private island. And their efforts have been effective: “Chrissy Teigen Jeffrey Epstein” is currently one of the top searches related to Teigen on Google Trends.
Teigen has been very public about the harassment she has faced from conspiracy theorists and the devastating impact it has had on her life. Last July, she tweeted she had blocked one million accounts and deleted 60,000 tweets on her account because she was “worried” for her family’s safety; she also threatened to leave Twitter, which had long faced criticism for failing to curb the spread of QAnon-related misinformation, if it failed to do anything about the harassment.
The following week, Twitter removed thousands of QAnon accounts and vowed to prevent QAnon-related misinformation from appearing in searches and trends. But its actions did not prevent Teigen from facing further abuse from QAnon believers when she publicly revealed she had lost a pregnancy last October, with many flooding her account to accuse her of lying about her loss. (Twitter declined to comment on Teigen’s departure from the platform or her history of harassment from QAnon adherents.)
Unfortunately, even Teigen leaving Twitter has not stopped QAnon believers from continuing to peddle misinformation about her. One member of a far-right Telegram group with more than 204,000 subscribers posted an image of a genetically modified Teigen with crab legs embracing a child, as well as screengrabs of her old tweets referencing pizza and children. “It was a group of us anons who got Chrissy Teigen” to leave the platform, the poster bragged, before darkly insinuating that she may have left because she’s “creating a scene about some other reason she may not be around online soon,” an ostensible reference to the mass arrests of those believed to be involved in the child trafficking ring. “The people are waking up,” the post concludes.