The internet is an ugly place, and three-time Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas is its latest victim. The 20-year-old is now the latest public figure to endure online harassment.
Critics came after her for not seeming enthused after her teammates, Aly Raisman and Simone Biles, won silver and gold medals during the all-around competition. The internet also accused Douglas of not being patriotic because she didn't place her hand over her heart during the National Anthem.
Douglas told ESPN she tried to stay offline after the attacks.
"I've always said it was an honor to represent the U.S. You always do this for your country, and then, like people say, for yourself and other people," Douglas told ESPN.
Douglas showed how deeply the comments and the trending #CrabbyGabby tweets hurt her after her last post-competition interview. After Douglas left the press area, she walked down a hall in the Olympic Arena, stood in a corner facing away from watching eyes, and cried, according to ESPN reporter Johnette Howard.
So actor, comedian, Rio Olympics correspondent, and America’s sweetheart (IMHO) Leslie Jones sprang into action with the hashtag #LOVE4GABBYUSA.
Jones encouraged the internet to show Douglas how to brush the haters off. The "Ghostbusters" actress may know better than anyone what it's like to be criticized on the internet.
Jones publicly left Twitter in June after a barrage of heavily-racist haters attacked her on social media. In response, the social media platform banned one of the site’s most vitriolic agitators and vowed to do better with identifying and stopping abuse.
So, she mobilized those same positive users to shower Douglas with love.
"Show her the love you showed me," Jones wrote.
Jones isn't the first celebrity to speak up for Douglas, but her voice really matters because she's also experienced online harassment.
Twitter user @_KforKing called Jones out for her lack of mobilization, tweeting at her, "When people were attacking you. WE stood by you you [sic]. When they attack Gabrielle Douglas you say nothing."
Jones curtly explained that she had no idea Douglas had been attacked since she's covering the Olympics. Less than 30 minutes later, she created the affirmative hashtag.
Reuters notes this isn't the first time Douglas has been harassed for her performance at the Olympics.
In 2012, viewers criticized the gymnast's hair during the all-around final competition, where she won a gold medal.
"We've been brought to many tears because I don't know what she's done to warrant such an attack. To me it looks like she is being bullied...What I saw in the stands was someone who was hurting and she was also angry," Douglas’ mother Natalie Hawkins told Reuters. "What was going through her head was, 'I'm being attacked for everything I do so I might as well not do anything. Because no matter what I do, I am being attacked.'"
Hopefully Twitter bystanders can take a page out of Jones' book and pay love forward.
Honestly, it shouldn't take a series of articles showcasing Douglas' emotional turmoil for fans and supporters to take action. For Jones, the internet sprang to her defense well before online publications began reporting on the star's harassment. And we see the same for celebrities like Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, and Kim Kardashian.
Maybe next time an athlete is overtly-abused on Twitter, fans will come for the haters well before the damage is done.