Death by a thousand tweets


Social media offers almost unlimited access to the global conversation, giving everyone a voice without traditional media editorial.

Over the past decade, the growth of social media platforms hasn’t been without issue. FacebookYouTube and Instagram are among the largest to face criticism.

Another platform, significantly smaller but just as relevant is Twitter, and it’s at the centre of an online phenomenon disrupting public discourse – cancel culture.

This investigative short video explores the fascinating phenomenon of cancel culture, asking what it is, how it affects those in its path, and whether there’s any way of stopping it.

Despite the abstract nature of social media, there is mostly always another person behind the profile of any given platform.

Everyone has their own experiences, and each character within this story offers a unique perspective – from the cancelled themselves, to those who have to navigate the lines of fact and fiction.


Meet the #cancelled


James Swanepoel, who goes by John Swan online, faced heavy backlash after a feud with a YouTuber with a very large following. Graphic: Jack Stirling.

Not one person is equipped to have literally hundreds of thousands of people come after you in the way that it happened to me.

— James Swanepoel, YouTuber

Perth psychologist Dr Marny Lishman (left) and Insider journalist Kat Tenbarge (right) offer insight into the cancel culture phenomenon. Graphic: Jack Stirling.

Cancel culture is almost entirely ineffective at having any sort of long-lasting consequence…

— Kat Tenbarge, Journalist

Michael Kucharski, known online as Slazo, experienced the phenomenon in mid-June of 2019. Graphic: Jack Stirling.

I can’t do anything about this. Like I’m dead.

— Michael Kucharski, YouTuber