Popular YouTube personality Kimberly Nicole Foster plans to take legal action against Nicki Minaj fans who posted her personal information online, prompting a torrent of abuse that has lasted all week.
Foster plans to file a lawsuit as early as next week, she told The Daily Beast. The pop culture commentator has already filed a report with her local police department and submitted a tip to the FBI, complete with screenshots that show some of Minaj’s most passionate fans, known as the Barbz, threatening to kill and rape her for criticizing their favorite rapper.
Foster, 33, says the turmoil started earlier this week, after she posted a tweet that read, “Nicki is so clearly a horrible person. Negativity sticks to her like glue. Idk if we’ve ever seen this before.”
Within hours of posting the tweet early Monday morning, Foster’s Twitter inbox, mentions and texts were flooded.
“It was normal, annoying stuff where I was like, ‘OK, block and move on,’” Foster told The Daily Beast. “The messages became more threatening and dark, and then it started to be, ‘We’re gonna find you. I’m gonna kidnap you, I hope you get raped.’”
The backlash has been exhausting for Foster, a Harvard graduate who founded a women’s empowerment blog, For Harriet, back in 2010. One of her first blog posts actually celebrated Minaj for ushering in “a new standard for beauty in America” with her curvy figure. In the years since, Foster has turned her focus to YouTube, where she sounds off on everything from celebrity gossip to her own struggles with mental health.
In a Zoom call with The Daily Beast on Friday, Foster said she was “overwhelmed” after several days of near-constant harassment. She’s avoided leaving her home, wary of venturing too far outside her guarded apartment complex in Texas.
“I work from home, but I’m definitely more vigilant for sure,” she says.
The day she posted her controversial tweet, Foster was supposed to accompany her nieces to school for “Grandfriends’ Day,” in which students are encouraged to bring in a grandparent, family member, or adult family friend for lunch. She had posted about the occasion on Twitter, thinking she was mostly speaking to her somewhat modest audience of about 80,000 followers.
“Someone sent me screenshots about, ‘I’m gonna find the kids’ address,’ and, ‘I don’t care,’ and, ‘They’ll be collateral damage,’” she recalls.
The Barbz also zeroed in on another recent tweet from Foster in which she critiqued Minaj’s latest single, “Super Freaky Girl,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 last month. Foster wrote in that tweet, “nicki is going to be 40 in 4 months. super freaky girl is a worse version of the hit she had 8 years ago. the age jokes are funny tho!”
It’s the kind of banal critique that landed Wanna Thompson, another cultural commentator, in hot water with the Barbz back in 2020. Much has been written about Minaj’s propensity to sic her fans on journalists and amateur critics alike; 12 years into her career, the rapper has gone from a madcap provocateur to a seemingly vindictive and embittered icon who guards her elite status with the help of her loyal foot soldiers online. A couple years back, Minaj personally responded to Thompson with even more insults. Now, she seems confident that her fans can take her hints about where to direct their ire, which she often telegraphs via sly tweets and suggestive emojis.
Videos on Foster’s Twitter show the intensity of the vitriol, which ranges from schoolyard insults to actual death threats. One screen recording, taken from the “liked” tab on Minaj’s account, shows the rapper liking tweets that encourage others to harass Foster.
“We match energy over here,” read one of the tweets liked by Minaj amid this week’s drama. “I got the old Nicki back u finna get the old Barbz back,” another read. In a since-deleted tweet of her own, Minaj appeared to address the controversy directly: “I can’t drag her myself that’s for sure,” she wrote alongside a link to her new song.
An attorney for Minaj declined to comment for this article.
Some of the fan accounts responsible for the most vile messages against Foster include bios that brag about the times Minaj followed them or engaged with their tweets. This, Foster believes, is ultimately what motivates them.
“There’s an understanding among the Barbz that the harder they go for her—the more virulent the nastiness—there’s more of an opportunity for her to recognize them,” she says.
Foster is still gathering evidence in the form of phone numbers, Twitter handles, and IP addresses in order to build her case. Minaj herself is in the clear for now.
“In the conversations I’ve had this week, I’ve learned more and more how little precedent there is about online harassment,” Foster tells The Daily Beast. “A lot of the lawyers I’m talking to are guessing, because there’s just not a lot of case law. Most people are not willing to spend the time and the money to see this stuff through. I’m absolutely willing to do that.”