By KC Mason
Gerod Roth, more commonly known as Geris Hilton, became arguably one of the most hated men on the Internet this past week for a Facebook thread that went down a dark, racist path. He spoke to Rise News in an exclusive interview about what happened and why he believes he is a victim.
To sum up the social media firestorm: Roth took a photo with Cayden, the three year old son of one of his coworkers Sydney Jade. Roth made the photo his profile picture on Facebook and his Facebook friends started to make racially charged comments about Cayden. Roth did not remove the comments and added to the conversation that the child was “feral.” Weeks later, the post went viral and Roth was forced out of his job. While his former company said they fired him, Roth said that he quit before the controversy. While Roth claims some of the screenshots of the conversation circulating are photoshopped, he admits that he did make the comment calling the child “feral.”
The questions for this interview are based in part on the public statement Roth posted to his Facebook account on October 6th.
Q: You said that you feel that you were targeted, what do you think caused you to be targeted in this way?
Roth: Awhile back I went on this huge rant on Facebook, and part of the rant was that, ‘it’s not just black lives that matter; all lives matter.’ I went on to kind of elaborate in the comments section and I was like, ‘I don’t mean that black lives don’t matter; I support the movement and I support #BlackLivesMatter, I just don’t like that the message has been misconstrued by some people to advocate killing cops and white people in protest.’ That’s not what it means and that’s not what it’s about. I support the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole; police brutality is a real issue. It’s a very real problem in our modern day society. I agree that these issues need to be addressed, but I don’t agree with some skewed interpretations of the movement. That’s exactly where I think this whole ordeal derived from. I think that someone in my friends network did not like my opinion on the matter, and then saw an opportunity in my profile picture and took advantage of it.
Q: People online have been shaming you for comments that your Facebook friends made on your profile picture. You admitted in your public statement on Facebook that you did consider some of those people to be friends and have since unfriended them, but how many of your Facebook friends do you know and consider friends in real life?
Roth: 90 percent of the people on my Facebook are people that I’ve never met in person. I cannot vouch for their character and I definitely don’t condone or support everything they post. They’re just networking and EDM industry connections.
Q: Do you know when the comments on your profile originally took a racist turn?
Roth: Unfortunately, no. When looking back at the screen caps, they all just say ‘September 16’ so there’s no way for me to track the time stamp on them. I wasn’t watching as it was happening. I’m very infrequent with my actual Facebooking, even though my work does deal with Facebook. Most of the time I’m involved in messages back in forth with people trying to set up and conduct interviews and stuff like that. When I did finally look at my notifications that’s when I saw the [racist] remarks and I told people, ‘you guys need to stop. This is my public profile. Stop. Cayden’s mom is on this page. Stop.’
Q: Can you explain why you didn’t delete the racist comments after asking people to stop?
Roth: Personally for me, looking back at it, I just didn’t think to actually delete the comments. That’s the honest to God truth. It was just a lackadaisical moment. I’m very busy, I’m in my office dealing with stuff in my professional job with PMG, I was just busy and I overlooked it. I sent the comment out asking people to stop; I didn’t really have time to go through and delete all the comments.
Q: Do you know as of yet who originally photoshopped the screenshot that went viral?*
Roth: I’ve been looking everywhere. I literally have a brigade of people on Facebook and Twitter looking for it. I’m going through Facebook customer service, trying to find and verify the origin of the photoshopped screenshot, but to no avail whatsoever.
Q: You’ve mentioned that there’s ongoing investigations into this issue, what can you tell us about that?
Roth: I could say that there is an investigation, although I’m not sure if that’s the proper or legal term for it. I don’t know if it’s even at a legal level yet, but there’s a lot of research being done by many individuals and organizations. Right now they’re just collecting data- screenshots, tweets, Facebook posts, everything.
Q: There are many other offensive screenshots/posts coming out from Twitter and Facebook accounts that all claim to be you but that have been called fake by you and your supporters. Do you have any information on these fake accounts?
Roth: The posts coming from these fake accounts are ridiculous. Honestly, me and my friends have shut down at least 10 fake accounts at this point. That’s across platforms. I never knew how hard it is to monitor people on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter all at once.
When asked about this post:
Q: What about that Twitter account that made a joke about Cayden’s mom being mad that you turned her down?
Roth: I can most definitely attest to the fact that that is not my account.
At this point I think the public is really looking at, you know, my Facebook account. That’s where everything originated; it’s the root of the problem. I feel like everyone’s just looking at that Facebook account, especially after I released my public statement. I made everything public. Everyone’s able to comment and say a piece of their mind.
Q: You said that news outlets and PMG falsely reported the reasons for your leaving PMG. Could you elaborate on that?
Roth: I was their Director of Operations, the HR manager, but I got a letter of termination on the 29th [of September] and this story came out around the 1st or 2nd [of October]. Basically they got that completely turned around. PMG kinda turned on me and slandered my name.
Q: So if you weren’t fired due to racism, why did you get terminated?
Roth: It was a mutual decision. I left with a full severance package due to organizational restructuring.
Q: Did they withdraw the severance package?
Roth: No, I received the severance package on Friday [October 2nd] this last week when they were already aware of what was going on.
Q: You said they withdrew their original statement and released another, did they ever admit to misrepresenting you and the reasons you left the company?
Roth: They never admitted to it, but they told Fox 5 yesterday [October 5th] that I left of my own accord/ for different reasons. That’s the only place they’ve said anything [like that].
Q: It’s been reported that, in addition to losing your job with PMG, you also lost your job with Your EDM. What can you tell us about that situation?
Roth: Unfortunately I’m officially terminated from Your EDM.
Q: In conclusion, is there anything else you’d like to say?
Roth: I’m so floored right now. I really cannot comprehend what has been going on the last few days with people only getting one side of the story and people blindly going off of doctored screenshots. The media is guilty of blowing things out of proportion, taking a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ approach and it’s ruining journalism.
Disclaimer: KC Mason is a friend of Roth’s. However we felt it appropriate for their Q&A session to be published publicly.
*Rise News could not authenticate whether some images circulating on social media were photoshopped or not. This question was asked in direct response to a prior statement by Roth.
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