Americans care more about Depp v. Heard trial than war, abortion, inflation

Americans care more about Depp v. Heard trial than war, abortion, inflation

Americans are grappling with soaring inflation, the ongoing pandemic and the likely overturn of Roe v. Wade — but they are interested in one issue above all else.

The blockbuster defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is currently generating more social media engagement than any other topic, according to data from media monitoring platform NewsWhip.

The data firm claims that the captivating courtroom drama has garnered an average of 508 social media interactions — i.e. likes, comments and shares — for each published article over the past month.

That is almost five times as much engagement as articles pertaining to abortion (141 social media interactions) and more than 10 times as much engagement as articles about COVID-19 (44 social media interactions). 

“Hands down it’s a record-setter for us,” Rachel Stockman, president of Law & Crime network, told Axios of the trial on Wednesday. 

The blockbuster defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is currently generating more social media engagement than any other topic, according to data from NewsWhip. The blockbuster defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is currently generating more social media engagement than any other topic, according to data from NewsWhip. AP Data from NewsWhip shows social media interactions about the trial has dwarfed all other topics in the past month.Data from NewsWhip shows social media interactions about the trial have dwarfed all other topics in the past month. The captivating courtroom drama has garnered an average 508 social media interactions — ie. likes, comments and shares — for each published article over the past month. Trial of the decade: The captivating courtroom drama has garnered an average of 508 social media interactions — i.e. likes, comments and shares — for each published article over the past month. POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Meanwhile, people across the country claim to be concerned about the rising costs of goods and services, but articles about inflation only garner an average of 70 likes, comments and shares.

The war in Ukraine doesn’t enthrall Americans as much, with articles on the conflict only managing to attract 91 social media interactions on average.

Even President Joe Biden doesn’t come close to attracting the same level of interest that Depp and Heard do. Published stories about the commander in chief receive an average of 170 interactions on social media.

Data shows that, in the past month, there has been four times as many Google searches for Amber Heard's name than for abortion or the Supreme Court.Data shows that, in the past month, there have been four times as many Google searches for Amber Heard’s name than for abortion or the Supreme Court.AP

And while hundreds of thousands of people took part in pro-choice rallies across the country after the leak of a Supreme Court draft that could strike down Roe v. Wade, data shows millions more Americans care more about Amber Heard — at least online.

In the past month, there have been four times as many Google searches for Heard’s name than for abortion or the Supreme Court, Axios reported.

The only other public figure who has come close to attracting the same level of social media interest as Heard in the past month is her former flame, Elon Musk.

Google searches for the billionaire are up in recent weeks after his Twitter buyout, but Heard’s name is still searched twice as much as Musk’s, NewsWhip reports.

The only other public figure who has come close to attracting the same level of interest as as Amber Heard in the past month is her former flame, Elon Musk. The only other public figure who has come close to attracting the same level of interest as Amber Heard in the past month is her former flame, Elon Musk. dpa/picture alliance via Getty I

Many people are consuming the Depp v. Heard trial through social media, with millions watching takes and highlights published on TikTok. Videos with the hashtag #JusticeForJohnnyDepp have been viewed a staggering 8.3 billion times on that site.

Others are also tuning in on YouTube, with Law & Crime’s Stockman telling Axios: “Consumption has changed for trials like this. We’re seeing 10 to 15 times the number of viewers for this trial than we normally do across platforms, but most specifically in YouTube.”

“We’re [also] seeing bigger and bigger audiences on Twitch,” she added.

It’s possible that Americans are using the juicy legal proceedings between Depp and Heard as a distraction from an onslaught of bad news.

Stories about inflation, the war in Ukraine and the likely restriction of reproductive rights come as the country continues to suffer from COVID fatigue more than two years into the pandemic.

People across the country were glued to their screens as Heard took the stand to be cross-examined by Depp's lawyer on Tuesday.People across the country were glued to their screens as Heard took the stand to be cross-examined by Depp’s lawyer on Tuesday.REUTERS

The defamation trial between Depp and Heard resumed in Virginia on Monday after a weeklong hiatus.

People across the country were glued to their screens as Heard took the stand to be cross-examined by Depp’s lawyer.

Depp is suing Heard for defamation over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed that the “Aquaman” star wrote, in which she said she was a victim of sexual violence. She did not specifically name Depp in the article, but it was written after Heard filed for a restraining order against her ex-husband in 2016 over abuse allegations.

Depp is seeking $50 million in damages. Heard has filed a $100 million countersuit.

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