It’s possible that celebrity photographer Terry Richardson’s latest sex scandal is little more than a hoax.
Over the weekend, UK model Emma Appleton tweeted a Facebook message she supposedly received from Richardson asking for sex in exchange for an opportunity to pose for Vogue.
Though she later deleted the tweet (and her account), the story took on a life of its own in the media, with various publications bashing Richardson and the modelling industry, and defending Appleton for her bravery in sharing the tweet.
However, Page Six (which is a gossip rag, so: grain of salt) reports that Facebook was unable to verify the account that the message came from. The account it came from was already in violation of Facebook’s standards of authenticity, as well. If true, this means that the message came from a spam account operated by someone posing as Richardson (this happens more than you think).
Additionally, Page Six quotes online forensic expert Theo Yedinsky as saying that the account is likely fake, pointing out that it was apparently set up through “some random Gmail account.”
Richardson’s reps have said that Appleton was told that she was messaged from a fake account, which could explain why she deleted her Twitter page after the fallout. She also later implied that the message she received could have been inauthentic.
“If the account is fake, then it needs to be removed. If it is real, then he is a hideous human,” Appleton said on Instagram.
We can’t tell you who, if anyone, is posing as the beleaguered photographer online, but as far as easy targets go, Richardson is pretty much dressed in orange and standing very very still, if you know what I mean. The 48-year-old has been accused numerous times of untoward behavior, up to and including sexual assault.
While he has a number of high-profile defenders, some have chosen to distance themselves in recent days. After the story broke this week, Vogue released a statement saying: “The last assignment Terry Richardson had for U.S. Vogue appeared in the July 2010 issue and we have no plans to work with him in the future.”
What do you think of Terry Richardson’s latest sex scandal? Is it a hoax? Does it matter? Sound off!
[Image: Dave Tada]