Not your ordinary catfishing story: The role of cancel culture behind the hashtag #SamMoralesisOver

This study examined the role of cancel culture behind the hashtag #SamMoralesIsOver to determine how it affected the LGBTQ+ catfishing victims’ courage to speak out. The hashtag refers to the online “cancellation” of multimedia artist Sam Morales after trans woman Jzan Vern Tero disclosed how Sam catfished her into an 8-month relationship. A focus group discussion was conducted among eight LGBTQ+ members who were either catfishing victims or shared or retweeted tweets with the said hashtag. Responses were analyzed using the theories of Convergence Culture, Spiral of Silence, and Empowerment. Findings showed that LGBTQ+ members define cancel culture as an online phenomenon involving a group of persons condemning offensive and displeasing acts, beliefs, or certain stigmas in an attempt to demand accountability from the perceived offender. Participants find Twitter the most convenient platform for cancel culture. The catfishing victims’ decision to speak out are influenced by these factors: relatability, raising awareness, and the perpetrator’s reason for catfishing. Cancel culture has a significant role in promoting awareness about the ongoing struggles of minority groups like the LGBTQ+ community.