According to these stories, 12 of her classmates were members of a Facebook group titled, “Stefani Germanotta, you’ll never be famous”, where they made fun of her for performing in New York City bars and trying to make a name for herself.
Twitter user @majdgeorge98 serves as the primary source for this story, and most of the articles that repeat the story don’t provide any others.
But is it actually true? Honestly, it’s hard to know.
The original source for the story seems to be this opinion piece published by Public Radio International’s The World that dates back to January 17, 2016. It doesn’t contain any screenshots, but it does open with this:
“When I was a freshman at NYU and Facebook was only a year old and people created/joined groups like “I have dimples” and “Fake ID, please!,” I remember coming across a Facebook group that broke my heart. It’s name, something like: “Stefani Germanotta, you will never be famous.””
The entire piece is about the author’s feelings upon finding the group, upon learning that Stefani Germanotta was Lady Gaga, and upon seeing Leonardo DiCaprio’s reaction to Lady Gaga squeezing past him to collect her award at the 2016 Golden Globes.
Given the nature of the piece, the narrative of a girl who overcame bullying and proved her haters wrong is a desirable one. But whether it’s an accurate one is a different matter entirely.
Here’s what we know:
- The opinion piece says the author found the group when Facebook was ‘only a year old’, which would be around 2005
- Lady Gaga was enrolled at NYU until the second semester of the 2005 school year
- Facebook was initially only open to college students
- Facebook groups have been a feature since at least 2005 – some say since the summer, which would mean they didn’t exist when Gaga was still enrolled
Here’s what we also know:
- All Facebook groups matching the description were created in the past week
- A Facebook page (remember, pages are different to groups) matching the description was created the day after the opinion piece went live
Simply put, with the information that’s available, we don’t know enough to draw a conclusion either way. There’s no reason to believe the author of the opinion piece wasn’t being truthful about what she saw on Facebook that day in 2005, but all evidence has since been wiped from the internet, and without that, there’s no way to definitively know.
While fact-checking a relatively harmless story about Lady Gaga might seem pointless, the story is just one of the latest examples of how some news outlets can fall into the trap of picking up a story from social media and run with it without digging any deeper or trying to independently verify the information.
Regardless of the story’s veracity, Lady Gaga has had a fantastic awards season this year, and that should be enough cause to celebrate, mean-Facebook-group or no mean-Facebook-group.