Star Wars director JJ Abrams being on Twitter is a brave move | Tech Industry

Director J.J. could end up giving more clues to the next Star Wars movie on Twitter if fans behave themselves.

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

When filmmaker J.J. Abrams used Twitter for the first time on Wednesday (he joined in October 2017), he gave fans another chance at direct contact with a Star Wars heavy hitter.

In his first tweet, Abrams shared the first official photo from the production of the yet-to-be-titled Star Wars Episode 9, and shared personal thoughts about George Lucas, previous Star Wars director Rian Johnson and late Star Wars actor Carrie Fisher, who’ll be added to the upcoming film thanks to unseen footage.

“Bittersweet starting this next chapter without Carrie, but thanks to an extraordinary cast and crew, we are ready to go,” tweeted Abrams, who’s been part of the Lucasfilm/Disney family since helming his first Star Wars film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in 2015.

But joining Twitter might get Abrams more than he bargained for. While it’s too soon to tell how fans will treat the director now that they have direct access to him, some Star Wars fans have unfortunately demonstrated that when they get angry, no one is safe from their online wrath.

Star Wars actor Kelly Marie Tran deleted posts on her Instagram earlier this year after being hit with an onslaught of harassment from fans angry over her role as Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Last year, Star Wars actor Daisy Ridley also quit social media, saying she found the online interaction with fans to be “bad for her mental health.”

Star Wars actors aren’t the only ones facing online issues. Some fans were so outraged by The Last Jedi, they demanded it be removed from Star Wars canon. Some went so far as to threaten the filmmaker responsible, director Rian Johnson, via social media.

“You’re not going to please everyone,” Johnson said of the harassment. “But then you still read someone saying they wish you were dead and it’s going to ruin your day.”

As CNET found in our special report iHate, online abuse is getting worse. And it exacts a very real toll — yes, even on celebrities, who some might expect to be impervious to public opinion because they’ve chosen to live in the public eye.

Other actors who’ve left Twitter include Stranger Things actor Millie Bobby Brown, who in June deleted her Twitter account after people used her photo in internet memes depicting her as homophobic, and British actor and author Stephen Fry, who temporarily quit Twitter in February 2016.

“The pool is stagnant,” Fry wrote on his blog. “It is frothy with scum, clogged with weeds and littered with broken glass, sharp rocks and slimy rubbish. If you don’t watch yourself, with every you’ll end up being gashed, broken, bruised or contused.”

But celebrities leaving social media can ultimately hurt the fans most.

When actors, filmmakers and showrunners give fans first looks at new movies and series via their personal social media accounts, that adds excitement about the project, and also makes fans feel closer to the creative people behind their favorite projects.

And Abrams already seems to be getting the attention of fans tweeting at him their past Star Wars grievances (“Please fix star wars. Erase VIII,” one wrote), as well as fans who don’t think the director will last long on Twitter. “I assume @rianjohnson pranked @jjabrams into joining twitter, convincing him how nice everyone is here,” one wrote.

Then are the hopeful fans who are excited Abrams decided to finally tweet. 

Here’s hoping Abrams sticks around to give fans more sneak peeks at Star Wars 9 before it’s released, and before Twitter trolls channel the dark side of the Force.

iHate: CNET looks at how intolerance is taking over the internet.

Crowd Control: A crowdsourced science fiction novel written by CNET readers.

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