Last week, an unsuspecting woman boarded a plane from New York to Dallas and switched seats with a woman named Rosey Blair, who had asked to sit next to her boyfriend. The woman ended up with a new seatmate, Euan Holden, a former professional soccer player turned model, and chatted with him throughout the flight. What she didn’t know was that Blair, seated behind her, was surreptitiously photographing her and Holden’s every interaction, recording it all in a Twitter thread that went viral and garnered the hashtag #PlaneBae.
Now the woman, who has asked to remain anonymous, has spoken out about her experience and the consequences she has suffered as a result.
In a statement issued through her lawyer to Business Insider she wrote:
I am a young professional woman. On July 2, I took a commercial flight from New York to Dallas. Without my knowledge or consent, other passengers photographed me and recorded my conversation with a seatmate. They posted images and recordings to social media, and speculated unfairly about my private conduct.
Since then, my personal information has been widely distributed online. Strangers publicly discussed my private life based on patently false information.
I have been doxxed, shamed, insulted and harassed. Voyeurs have come looking for me online and in the real world.
I did not ask for and do not seek attention. #PlaneBae is not a romance—it is a digital-age cautionary tale about privacy, identity, ethics and consent.
Please continue to respect my privacy, and my desire to remain anonymous.
Her comments confirm many people’s worst suspicions about the event—that she was being exploited for viral fame unknowingly, and unwillingly, to nefarious ends.
Immediately following the flight, Holden embraced his newfound fame, even adding “Plane Bae” to his Twitter bio. Blair also sought to capitalize on the situation. “I’m an actress, comedian and a writer and so is my dude. Also if anyone wants to send us plane tickets we are more than happy to try and find your very own #PlaneBae,” she tweeted, before asking for a job at BuzzFeed. Brands also jumped into the fray, as brands are wont to do. Alaska Airlines called what Blair did a “good deed” and offered her a free flight. T-Mobile offered Blair free Wi-Fi.
While Blair was busy blocking critics on Twitter, many others attempted to shout to the millions of Twitter users the thread had attracted that this wasn’t some meet-cute romance story. Blair, knowing nothing about the two passengers’ personal lives, sexual orientations, or private business, projected a false narrative onto them in order to go viral.
The woman in the thread reached out to Blair directly and gave a statement to the Today show making it clear that the tweets were misleading and that she wanted to be left alone, yet Blair posted a video encouraging her followers to seek out the woman’s personal information.
Somehow, after all of this, fans of the thread still remained adamant that no wrong had been committed. “We do it everyday to celebrities. No difference. Outrage culture is so dumb,” wrote one Instagram user below a BuzzFeed News post on the story. “It was harmless, and it’s over. Seriously,” someone else said. “Why is this such a big deal?” asked another. “It’s not an invasion of privacy.”
But it is an invasion of privacy, and the woman’s statement proves just how harmful such an act can be. Despite the fact that she did everything in her power to remain anonymous from the moment she became aware of the thread, she still had her personal information and address revealed and received so much harassment that she quit social media.
The fact that she made her statement via a lawyer suggests that she may have plans to sue, something many people on Twitter support. Whether she receives compensation for the damage inflicted, her saga offers a lesson about viral fame and consent. Blair issued an apology for her actions on Wednesday. Perhaps users will think twice about sharing a viral-romance Twitter thread again.
Reflecting on the aftermath of the #PlaneBae saga, one man on Twitter wrote, “Nobody told us that our ‘15 Minutes of Fame’ would include shaming, insults, threats, etc. And that we might not have even asked for it.”
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