Social media star Gabbie Hanna is under fire for several comments this week, many of them described as ableist — discriminatory against disabled people. In a prolonged thread on Saturday, one Twitter user gathered screenshots of Hanna's tweets that included ableist slurs and insensitive commentary. Before long, others were weighing in on the issue.
Hanna rose to prominence on Vine and has since branched out into YouTube content, original music, acting, podcasts and writing. She often addresses issues like cyber-bullying and touches on social justice commentary, but Saturday's thread argued that she has many transgressions of her own to answer for. Some of those are relatively recent, including the one that set this discussion off. It came when Hanna weighed in on the question of "tone indicators."
Tone indicators are a relatively recent social media phenomenon where users state the intended tone of their posts at the very end, typically in forms like "//srs" meaning "serious," or "//j" meaning "joking." It is intended to help readers who are neurodivergent — meaning, they are on the Autism spectrum or have some other neurodivergence that makes it more difficult to discern tone from context.
Critics were incensed when Hanna tweeted: "I think y'all doin way too f—in much" about tone indicators," though they may have been missing the context there. Hanna later explained herself on Twitter, saying that she thought her fans were making up "tone indicators" on the spot for her sake, believing she needed them because she is "sensitive." She also said that the tweets made reference to a deeper conversation from a livestream on her Patreon page.
Still, critics thought that Hanna had been dismissive of their concerns, and had other callous moments to answer for. She had recently "liked" one tweet using the ableist slur "retarded," and some other content creators have criticized her as well. Some of her older tweets had jokes about pedophilia and potentially racist language, and one other YouTuber accused her of being a "rape apologist."
All of this added up to a confusing weekend for Hanna's fans and a learning experience for many of them. Scroll down for a blow-by-blow of the conflict as it played out on Twitter.
1. For someone with a big platform, spreading this behavior is disgusting. Tone indicators are important for twitter user (Explanation next) pic.twitter.com/aAmOMcscN8— ً (@WANKYCEDES) February 27, 2021
ya’ll be doin way too fuckin much lmao— gh (@GabbieHanna) February 27, 2021
my tone is yall doin way too fuckin much hahahaha— gh (@GabbieHanna) February 27, 2021
Twitter user WANKYCEDES wrote a prolonged thread on Hanna's perceived transgressions. In context, her tweets seemed to be poking fun at the idea of tone indicators themselves, although she later claimed to have more rapport with the people she was replying to than her critics had realized.prevnext
i was actually referring to the fact that my fans were apologizing to me about talking shit about me deleting my album & starting over. a fan was saying they should have specified they were joking to me and i said they're doing too much, bc i do not need an indicator from my fans https://t.co/U9Edb7wiC3— gh (@GabbieHanna) February 28, 2021
absolutely. i was responding to my own fans about my own situation, telling them they don't need to specify to me. this was in reference to a private livestream on my patreon, but our convo continued onto twitter. feel free to watch here :)https://t.co/7MPzOMeMEZ https://t.co/VtkmVb9ATq— gh (@GabbieHanna) February 28, 2021
bc the tweet was from a fan (their username is my initials) in reference to the same group conversation we were having. they were responses to people i was having a convo w, not my stance on how to world should speak to each other.— gh (@GabbieHanna) February 28, 2021
As the scope of the conversation grew, Hanna explained that she had been referencing another conversation, not making a blanket statement about tone indicators. She had thought that "tone indicators" were an original idea from that conversation, not an established practice for neurodivergent people.prevnext
sorry to any of my neurodivergent fans who were hurt by that, i hope u know that's never my intention. today is the first day i heard the term tone indicators, i thought my fans were fucking w/ me for being sensitive. ironically, this coulda been avoided w a tone indicator😅 ily!— gh (@GabbieHanna) February 28, 2021
Hanna then apologized for the misunderstanding, and any pain it may have caused her neurodivergent fans. She hoped that they could see that she had not been dismissive of their needs.prevnext
i deadass thought rachel made that list for me as a joke bc i was butthurt on patreon about them roasting me for starting my album over. again, i meant NO harm to ND people ofc, but i'm very sorry that i hurt anyone https://t.co/LppyGdf4rq— gh (@GabbieHanna) February 28, 2021
this is a great example for the need to spread awareness and information about neurodivergency. i learned what tone indicators were today, and so a lot of other people who saw the trend. so keep the convo going!— gh (@GabbieHanna) February 28, 2021
Hanna then took this whole ordeal as an object lesson in the importance of spreading awareness about neurodivergent needs. She hoped that others had learned with her in real time that tone indicators might be appropriate in many contexts.prevnext
3. Gabbie has always been extremely toxic and over the last few years, more and more content creators have come out and told their stories.— ً (@WANKYCEDES) February 27, 2021
Still, some critics were not convinced, and they thought that Hanna still had other transgressions to answer for. One of the prime examples was a video by YouTuber JessiSmiles, who accused Hanna of helping to protect the reputation of a rapist.prevnext
tw/ pedophilia— ً (@WANKYCEDES) February 28, 2021
this is absolutely disgusting pic.twitter.com/f5T3m5gbfw
?? hello? pic.twitter.com/RZDcktMPWH— ً (@WANKYCEDES) February 28, 2021
for all of the mfs defending her:— ً (@WANKYCEDES) February 28, 2021
do yall realize you’re ass kissing a woman who wouldn’t even give you the time of day? 💀 she does NOT care about yall for yall to be complaining this hard in my mentions /gen
Critics also pointed to Hanna's past tweets, including insensitive jokes made as recently as 2016 and a recent "liked" tweet that callously used the word "retarded."prevnext
Gabbie Hanna has always played the victim online and her actions have been swept under the rug but being openly ableist and using this as a joke is unforgivable. She calls everyone “bullies” when we speak out against her. She’s a grown fucking woman, hold her accountable.— ً (@WANKYCEDES) February 27, 2021
Finally, critics argued that Hanna was working to reframe the narrative of this social media scuffle to make herself "the victim" and garner sympathy. They argued that she has done this before and that she does not deserve fans' support anymore. However, at the time of this writing Hanna is still receiving lots of positive commentary across social media.prev