People Believed This Fashion Vlogger Had Been Kidnapped By ISIS, And It Caused 'Internet Hysteria'

In the summer of 2016, 19-year old YouTuber Marina Joyce found herself at the center of an Internet conspiracy theory. Small shifts in how she created her videos made some of her fans think that she had been taken against her will. Swept up by the hysteria, thousands of people believed the Marina Joyce rumors, and some went so far as to say that extremists from the Islamic State were behind the whole thing. 

But who is Marina Joyce exactly? She's a young woman from the UK who got swept up in a bizarre video blogger conspiracy. When the mania first started, people even created a #SaveMarinaJoyce hashtag, which rapidly spread across Twitter.

After viewers realized that nothing was actually wrong, some of Joyce's fans turned on the vlogger, blaming her for the anxiety they experienced, and even starting the hashtag #BoycottMarinaJoyce. Although it turned out Joyce was alright from the get-go, one thing is for certain: the Internet can be a tumultuous and fickle place.

Photo: Marina Joyce / YouTube

  • Fans Believed She Was Being Controlled By An Unknown Captor

    Fans Believed She Was Being Controlled By An Unknown Captor
    Video: YouTube

    People went absolutely ballistic when Marina Joyce's "DATE OUTFIT IDEAS" video went live. In the video, it appears that whoever was running the camera was giving her directions; she was being told what to say and what to do. Some internet bloodhounds thought that Joyce was actually performing against her will, and a few people suggested that she looked as though she had been sedated. Others thought that she was being harmed, either by her boyfriend, her parents, or whoever was dominating over her. 

    The conspiracy theories began to snowball over the next few days, to the point that not even the police could quiet them. 

  • A Shift In Tone Sparked The Frenzy

    In one of Marina Joyce's dozens of videos, her most avid fans noticed that she was doing things a little differently. They noted that she was less bubbly and energetic, and the vlogger kept anxiously looking off-camera. This led many to believe that the YouTube star was in trouble, and some people took it upon themselves to help her. 

    These fans' worst fears were confirmed in a video Joyce released on July 8, 2016. In the video, people noticed a rifle leaning up against a dresser in the background of one of the shots. Combined with a swath of other "clues," the conspiracy theory that she was a captive began to form.

  • Some Believed Extremists Were Behind Joyce's Alleged Kidnapping

    When Marina Joyce attempted to do an in-person meetup near her London home, people didn't believe she was for real. Her fan base thought that she wasn't acting on her own volition, and some thought that she wasn't in control of her Twitter account. A few even said that ISIS had taken her against her will and drugged her, then forced her to continue making her videos. 

    They posited that her invitation to meet up was a trap, and anyone who attended would be terminated.

  • A Dedicated Fan Wrote Out The 'Evidence'

    After rumors began to suggest that there was a secret message hidden in Joyce's "DATE OUTFIT IDEAS" video, one fan wrote up a 1,300-word document that detailed the "evidence" of her captivity. This fan obviously cared about Joyce, as their report exhibits an amazing attention to detail. In the document, several of her videos were scrutinized on a frame-by-frame basis, and "suspicious" moments were pointed out with remarkable clarity:

    as a lot of other people are pointing out in her "date outfit ideas" video, at 0:08 you can see a piece of paper in the left corner, which has the possibility to be a script, you can hear a faint "help me" at 0:13, at 0:15 you can clearly see somebody's finger to the left of the screen telling her where to go, at 1:04 you can see visible bruises on her arms, as well as on her back at 1:13. pay attention to her eyes at 1:08, look at how they look beyond the camera with the look of fear, and how she smiles after it - like she was being told to. everything starting from 1:22-1:31 looks extremely forced, and if your speakers/headphones are loud enough, you can hear breathing at 0:53-0:57

    The document also delved into her behavior on social media, and how her accounts were likely controlled by her captor. Even though the conspiracy theory has since been debunked, the text is still considered an impressive attempt to help Joyce. 

  • Police Went To Her House To Investigate

    The Joyce household didn’t know how to handle the conspiracy theories. They saw that the video with supposed clues was garnering increasingly more views, that a ridiculously popular hashtag existed, and that there was an outpouring of support. Then the police showed up at their door asking if things were alright, which of course, they were.

    The cops and Joyce both tweeted that everything was fine, but the Internet wasn't so easily convinced. Joyce even started a live stream to show her fans that she was okay, and to discourage the theory that she was acting against her will, but it didn't matter. The conspiracy was in full swing, and it seemed like nothing could stop it.

  • #SaveMarinaJoyce Went Viral

    At the height of the frenzy, the #SaveMarinaJoyce hashtag began trending on Twitter. Millions of people saw it, and many were instantly convinced that the YouTuber's life was in danger. Her "DATE OUTFIT IDEAS" video - which served as the centerpiece for the whole thing - received millions of new views.

    People began combing through her backlog of videos to produce all sorts of evidence that supported the theories. Similar to vlogger Daisy Brown, fans noticed bruises on Joyce's arms in one of her videos, which they believed were the work of her captor. Others pointed to her on-camera gestures, which they interpreted as cries for help.