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The controversy surrounding TikTok’s viral ‘Pookie’ couple

TikTok’s viral “Pookie” couple has found themselves embroiled in controversy.

Campbell and Jett Puckett - a married couple from Georgia - have risen to prominence on TikTok for regularly posting videos of them showing off their outfits. On Campbell’s account, Jett has become an audience favourite for hyping his wife up as she modelled her looks while also lovingly calling her “Pookie.” In one video, Jett commented on his wife’s mini skirt and cardigan combo, “This is the ultimate Friday date night outfit.”

“It’s the sexy but classy look that I love,” Jett said as the pair prepared to attend a college football game. Another video, in which he called his wife’s looks “fire,” has been viewed more than 6m times. “Pookie looks absolutely amazing,” he says in a more recent upload, which has also been viewed millions of times.

Although many viewers initially felt secondhand embarassment, the tide turned and many began to express their love for their sweet videos. “I love this man,” one person wrote on a video, while another said: “He is so awkward in every video, but it’s so sweet.” People began to make their own “absolutely fire” parody videos, with big brands like Southwest Airlines getting in on the fun.

However, as their social media reach increased, so did the scrutiny on their lives, with viewers beginning to dig through their online history. A video narrating Jett’s resume alongside a screenshot of what appeared to be his LinkedIn garnered more than 2m views. There was no social media page left unturned, and soon enough, Reddit users found incriminating photos they claimed to be from the couple’s recent past.

In one photo posted to Facebook, Campbell could be seen posing in front of a Confederate flag, while, in another posted to Pinterest, she could be seen donning a gown with a large skirt said to be for an Antebellum plantation-themed Ole Miss Greek event. The second photo was posted on Pinterest by Campbell’s former sorority Phi Mu, which she was a member of when she was a student at the University of Mississippi.

Circulation of the photos has sparked public backlash, leading Campbell to take to her Instagram Story to apologise and address the situation. She defended the photos, saying that she was young and naive when she took them.

“As some of you may have seen, some old photos of mine have recently have resurfaced,” she wrote in white overlaid text over a solemn black background. “At the time these photos were taken, I was 20. I didn’t fully understand the impact of my actions the way I do now, 12 years later.”

She continued: “I fully apologise for the harm this may have caused for some and take full responsibility.”

Campbell then noted that, with their growing online platform, public scrutiny and judgment is what comes with the territory.

“Jett and I love sharing our lives with you all and getting to know our community on such an intimate level,” she said. “Because we live our lives so publicly, everything is on the internet, even my mistakes.”

“We hope to continue to bring you with us on our journey as we continue to learn and grow,” she concluded.

As more people continue to attempt to become influencers and open their lives up to public consumption, experts caution regular people to be careful about their digital footprint. Once something is online, it’s there forever.

The Independent has contacted Campbell and Jett Puckett for comment.