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#CuttingForBieber (also known as #Cut4Bieber) is an online hoax and Twitter hashtag campaign launched by members of 4chan in trying to spread a rumor that fans of Justin Bieber are cutting themselves in response to the leaked photographs of the singer allegedly smoking marijuana. The hoax involved creating numerous fake Twitter accounts and spreading pictures of supposedly self-inflicted scars with the hashtag, similar to misinformation techniques used in the #BaldForBieber campaign.
The entertainment news blog TMZ published several photographs of Justin Bieber allegedly smoking marijuana at a party in a Newport Beach hotel room (shown below) on January 4th, 2013. Within four days, the post received over 15,000 Facebook shares and 12,000 tweets.
On January 7th, 2013, a thread was posted to the /b/ (random) board on 4chan, which urged other users to create Twitter accounts and post images of scarred arms to spread a rumor that Bieber’s fans have begun harming themselves in response to the allegations of Bieber smoking marijuana (shown below).
On January 7th, 2012, several fake Twitter accounts were created for the hashtag campaign, including the @brittanyscrapma feed which tweeted several photographs of arms that had been supposedly cut with a razor accompanied by the hashtag “#CuttingForBieber.”
#cuttingforbieber stop the drugs and we’ll stop cutting.
— brittany scrapman (@brittanyscrapma) January 7, 2013
The same day, a Facebook page titled “Cutting For Bieber” was created, featuring image macros related to the campaign. Within 24 hours, the page received over 70 likes. Also on January 7th, YouTuber Wildhoglogging uploaded a video titled “Leader of Anonymous talks about cutting for Bieber,” in which a man hidden under a sweatshirt calling himself “Commander X” claimed to be the “leader of the 9gag Anonymous movement” and took responsibility for the #CuttingForBieber hoax (shown below)
News Media Coverage
Shortly after #CuttingForBieber began trending nationwide on January 7th, the Internet news sites BuzzFeedand Twitchy initially reported on the hashtag without any mentions of 4chan’s involvement, but both articles were later updated with details of the actual scheme. The same day, the entertainment news blog Complex described #CuttingForBieber as “the most disturbing hashtag of all time,” but subsequently updated the post after discovering the campaign’s true origins. Throughout the day, similar articles revealing the campaign as a hoax were published by Gawker and the men’s interest blog Brobible. On the following day, The Huffington Post published an article noting that the hashtag #SelfHarmIsNotAJoke began appearing on Twitter in response to the hoax.
On January 30th, 2013, a new thread was started on 4chan’s /b/ (random) board, asking readers to create and spread photoshopped images of nude women with the hashtag #boobs4bieber, all in an attempt to convince unsuspecting women into getting naked for the pop idol. The thread was met by a handful of responses featuring doctored images of nude women, while the hashtag was mentioned more than 400 times via Twitter within hours of the post on 4chan, according to The Daily Dot.
However, in contrast to the previous two hashtag campaigns aimed at Justin Bieber, the launch of #boobs4bieber was met by criticisms on /b/, with some commenting on the triteness of targeting Justin Bieber for the third time with the same joke and others alerting people on Twitter to disregard the hashtag altogether. Among the watchdogs against 4chan’s prank was John Mallamas (@JinSaotome), whose personal information was subsequently doxxed on Encyclopedia Dramatica.
The Huffington Post – Cutting For Bieber Twitter Hoax Allegedly Started By 4chan