Last month, Olivia Jade Giannulli took to Instagram to respond to rumors in the press about her famous family. In the Aug. 11 post, the teen vlogger mugs for the camera, face heavily made up and both middle fingers in the air. The photo’s provocative caption reads, “@dailymail @starmagazine @people @perezhilton @everyothermediaoutlet #close #source #says.”
Olivia Jade takes aim at the tabloids by directly tagging them and implying that their sources are not to be trusted. It was a ballsy, aggressive statement for the influencer’s second Instagram post in the wake of the college admissions bribery scandal that has been a fixture in the media since news of the FBI-dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues” first broke in March (the first Instagram post since the incident was a birthday tribute to her mom, Lori Loughlin).
This summer, after nearly six months of silence, Olivia Jade and her older sister, Bella, appeared to be planting the seeds of a social-media comeback, apparently much to the dismay of their family’s lawyers. According to an unnamed source in a recent Us Weekly report (the exact kind of report to which Olivia Jade gave the bird in her last Instagram post), the teen’s lawyers “begged her not to post anything because prosecutors are going to question her about it and show everything to the jury.”
Though anything printed in Us Weekly should admittedly be taken with a grain of salt, laying low is not bad advice for a widely disgraced teenager whose parents are each facing up to 40 years in prison for allegedly paying $500,000 to help her and her sister cheat their way into USC. Lori Loughlin, of Full House fame, and her fashion-designer husband Mossimo Giannulli pleaded not guilty in April to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. They are accused of working with a middleman to have Olivia Jade and Bella designated as rowing recruits to guarantee their acceptance into the University of Southern California. At the time the story broke, Olivia Jade was a freshman and Bella was a sophomore at the semi-prestigious private school.
With the recent flurry of social-media activity, it seems as though the Insta-famous sisters have decided that they are ready for us to forgive and forget. Olivia Jade and Bella have 1.4 million and 284,000 followers on Instagram, respectively. While the former has only shared the throwback birthday picture and rebellious “eff you, media” post, Bella has posted a whopping 12 photos since making her return to the platform just over a month ago. Most of them have been glam selfies showcasing her darker hairstyle, glowing suntan, and pastel Euphoria-inspired eye makeup—proof for the haters that the 20-year-old is living her best life while her parents await trial in federal court. It is possible that Bella has returned to USC for her junior year, as it was confirmed in August that she is still an active member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, despite reports that she was kicked out.
The Instagram comeback feels particularly calculated mainly because of how long the social-media-savvy sisters abstained from the virtual world of likes, filters, and trolls. The girls Instagrammed for the first time since the drama erupted on the same day, their mother’s late-July birthday, as if to simultaneously announce that they are back online to stay and that they aren’t holding a grudge against Loughlin, contrary to some reports.
They also presumably changed their settings to filter the comment sections, preventing the inevitable influx of hate given their notoriety. The comments on Olivia Jade’s latest post, for example, are suspiciously scarce (150 compared to 2,347 on a post from before the controversy).
The Instagram Help Center provides a comprehensive guide to filtering out negative comments. Inappropriate or offensive comments are already filtered out on the app, though users have the option of turning this off in their privacy settings by tapping the automatically-enabled “Hide Offensive Comments” filter. There is also a manual filter option that allows one to block comments containing specific words, phrases, numbers or emojis, and an option to block comments from specific people. Because of these tools, we have no way of knowing for sure whether or not the public is truly ready to welcome Olivia Jade and her severely contoured cheekbones back to Instagram.
Prior to the scandal, the 19-year-old was a YouTube star with nearly two million subscribers. She shared vlogs and beauty tutorials, often centered on her social life at college, with titles like “day in my life college style” and “Get Ready with Me: LAST College Party before break.” Though she admitted in an incriminating, since-deleted video that she didn’t really care about school or plan on regularly attending class, her time at USC provided ample content for her channel (and lucrative back-to-school brand deals with companies like Amazon).
According to ET Online, Olivia Jade has no plans to go back to school, however, instead choosing to focus on rebuilding her brand. Based on this development, a return to YouTube may be in the near future—good news for anyone whose preferred form of self-inflicted torture is watching the daughter of a millionaire and a Hallmark Channel actress talk about dropping “a few grand” on Vetements hoodies for 13 minutes straight. Olivia Jade also once aspired to be a beauty mogul in the mold of Kylie Jenner, collaborating on makeup palettes with Sephora before the cosmetics retailer cut ties with her in March. The ET source says that Mossimo Giannulli, who made his fortune as the designer of the popular Mossimo clothing line for Target, is “encouraging Olivia to create a new brand, either makeup or beauty related.”
Just a few days ago, Olivia Jade was spotted with her on-and-off boyfriend Jackson Guthy, 23, on a date at Disneyland. Onlookers claimed that she appeared to be in “good spirits.” Nothing says “I’ve moved on” quite like gratuitous PDA at the happiest place on earth.