Representatives for Chrissy Teigen have claimed designer Michael Costello used fake Instagram messages to accuse her of bullying.
Costello, who rose to fame through his appearance on season eight of Project Runway, shared messages that he claimed were from Teigen in the wake of backlash she is facing for old tweets she has since described as ‘awful’.
Teigen publicly admitted to having been a ‘troll’ and an ‘a**hole’ in the past in a Medium post shared this week, after which Costello took to Instagram to share screenshots of his alleged conversation with the model.
The designer said Teigen called him ‘a racist’ over a ‘photoshopped comment… which has now been proven to be false’, but that she responded to say his ‘career was over’ when he attempted to explain himself. Screenshots appeared to show messages from Teigen, however an investigation by Insider found ‘technical inconsistencies’ that could suggest the images have been manipulated.
The outlet pointed out several visual identifiers ‘appear to come from various iterations of Instagram and Teigen’s profile throughout the years,’ which could signify manipulated images.
Inconsistencies include the fact that Teigen’s Instagram account is not verified in the screenshots, evident with the lack of a blue tick next to her name. Teigen was verified by early 2015, indicating the screenshot was taken in 2014, however the messages have the purple and blue backgrounds which weren’t implemented on Instagram until February 2020.
Furthermore, a video chat icon relates to a feature that wasn’t introduced on Instagram until June 2018.
Insider also notes that Teigen’s profile picture in the screenshot is the one she had in 2014, however she changed her profile picture no later than December 2016. A screenshot taken after that time would therefore have shown her current profile picture.
A team representative for Teigen told the outlet the direct messages have been faked, though Teigen herself has not commented on the matter.
In keeping with its misinformation policy Instagram uses third-party fact-checkers to identify, review, and label false information, however it does not remove false information.
In the screenshots, messages allegedly sent by Teigen show her saying Costello will ‘get what’s coming’ to him and that the designer ‘might as well be dead.’
Alongside the screenshots, Costello wrote that in the wake of the exchange he considered taking his own life as he believed he could not ‘escape from the powerful elites in Hollywood.’
The designer’s post came after Courtney Stodden accused Teigen of bullying, prompting Teigen to apologise and say she was both ‘mortified and sad’ at who she ‘used to be.’
If you’ve been affected by bullying and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact Bullying UK (part of Family Lives) on 0808 800 2222. The helpline service is open 9am–9pm Monday to Friday and 10am–3pm Saturday and Sunday.