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Justin Bieber is a teen Canadian pop musician, singer, songwriter, and actor who rose to fame after several videos of his musical performances were uploaded to YouTube. He is often the subject of conversations online from both his critics, and his rabid supporters, known as “Beliebers”.
Justin Bieber was born in London, Ontario on March 1st, 1994. At the age of 12, Bieber’s mother started uploading videos of him singing pop songs onto her “kidrauhl” YouTube account on January 15th, 2007.
According to Reuters, this was the pivotal moment when Bieber’s popularity began to rise. In 2008, when he was 13 years old, American talent manager Scooter Braun contacted him after seeing one of Bieber’s videos on YouTube, and offered him a record deal. Beiber flew out to Atlanta, Georgia, to record demo tapes, and met the R&B artist Usher.
His first album, “My World”, was released on September 17th, 2009. It sold 137,000 albums in its first week, and peaked at number five on the U.S. Billboard 200. His next album, “My World 2.0”, released on March 23 2010, gained number 1 status on the U.S. Billboard 200, making him the first artist since the Beatles to debut at No. 1, and proceed to sell more the following week.
On Social Networks
On Facebook, anti-Bieber fan pages and groups have surfaced since the beginning of his career, and still exist. As of July 2011, “I Hate Justin Bieber” has 1,856,257 likes, and “Justin Bieber SUCKS !!” has 50,618 likes. These numbers are much smaller than Justin Bieber’s “Official fan page”, which has over 37 million likes as of November 2011. On Twitter, Bieber’s official page has amassed nearly 14,000,000 followers as of November 1st, 2011. Other Bieber fan Twitter accounts have followers ranging in the hundreds of thousands.
On YouTube, his videos make up several of the most viewed of all time, with 4 of his music videos in the top 50 viewed, including his music video for “Baby”, which is the most viewed video of all time as of July 2011. The music video also has a like to dislike ratio of about .488, showing that there are around twice as many dislikes for every like. In fact, some of Justin Bieber’s music videos made the “Top 10 Most Disliked Youtube Videos”, only seconded by Rebecca Black’s Friday. Even in videos not concerning Bieber, highly critical comments are posted about him. Multiple parody videos of Justin Bieber and his songs have been uploaded to YouTube.
On November 1st, 2011, Justin Bieber’s YouTube Channel JustinBieberVEVO reached a new milestone of 2 billion total views. According to the TIME Magazine, the new record views were boosted by the teen idol singer’s latest music video release for the Christmas single “Mistletoe,” which has been viewed more than 28 million views since its debut on October 18th, 2011. The previous viewcount milestone was established by Lady Gaga, who became the first artist to gain one billion views in October 2010.
On October 19th, 2011, a campaign called “Free Bieber” was launched that targeted the proposed Bill S.978 that recommends unauthorized streaming of copyrighting works should be punished with a maximum prison sentence of 5 years. The website FreeBieber.org explains that the bill could technically send Justin Bieber to prison for videos he had previously uploaded to YouTube:
A new bill in Congress makes posting a video containing any copyrighted work a felony-- with up to 5 years in prison. But wait… didn’t Justin Bieber get famous by posting YouTube videos of himself singing copyrighted R&B songs? Yep. If this bill passes, he could get 5 years in jail.
Many people criticize him for his youthful appearance, relatively high pitched voice, overabundance of heart throb songs, and the quality of his music. His manner of speech has also come under criticism, being called a dialect “more suited to rappers”. On the web, Bieber is frequently targeted by internet trolls, most of whom comment either on his sexuality, feminine hair style and voice, and his undeserved popularity.
Fandom: The Beliebers
Bieber’s popularity among pre-teen and teenage girls, including his wide-ranging fan base colloquially known as “Beliebers”, has occasionally led to some harsh criticism by his fans of other people, including personal attacks, death threats, and slanderous remarks. The website Belieber.com is a blog dedicated to Justin Bieber related news.
4chan has played an important part in the spread of attacks against Justin Bieber online. On June 13, 2010, a campaign was launched by the Anonymous of 4chan to get the phrase “Justin Bieber Syphilis” the number one Google Trend. According to Gawker, it became the number one trending search before 2:00 A.M. the following day.
The contest for Justin Bieber’s “My World Tour”, that asked for fans to vote on a country that Bieber should visit for his tour, was launched in early summer 2010. Anonymous used this as an opportunity to vote on sending Bieber to North Korea, a country with limited internet access, and strict borders.
Many countermeasures have been taken to eliminate the over-saturation of Justin Bieber-related search results online. On May 14, 2010, Twitter released a new algorithm for their Trending Topics feature, commonly called “Bye, bye Bieber”. The Algorithm limits trending topics to “immediately popular” and “most breaking”, which prevents any one topic from dominating Twitter for too long. Twitter noted that no topic is blocked from trending.
On May 17, 2010, Greg Leuch from the Free Art & Technology launched a Firefox add-on called “Shaved Bieber”, which removes any and all mention of Justin Bieber by blacking out any word mentions and censoring any pictures of him.
Flying Water Bottle Incident
In December 2009, at a Sacramento radio event, Justin Bieber was hit onstage with what appears to be an empty water bottle thrown by a fan. It was later revealed to be a bag of Sour Patch Kids wrapped in a Justin Bieber T-shirt. It is still unclear as to wether the person in the audience was a fan, or a hater in disguise.
Justin Bieber appeared on two episodes of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation as Jason McCann. Jason is the brother of Alex McCann, who bombed a police’s funeral in the beginning of the episode Shock Waves. Alex then later tried to bomb the whole LVPD. After Alex got shot dead during an attempted escape, Jason went on to bomb the police, and got shot and killed at the end of another episode, Targets of Obsession.
After the episode was aired, numerous clips of the show went on the web, most notably the part of which Justin Bieber was shot and killed.
On November 1st, 2011, a number of celebrity gossip blogs and news sites including Star Magazine and TMZ reported that a 20-year-old woman Mariah Yeater filed a paternity lawsuit against Bieber, claiming that they had sex backstage at one of his concerts in 2010. The singer’s legal team has dismissed Yeater’s claim as false allegation.
On October 23rd, 2012, rumors began circulating that Justin Bieber had been diagnosed with cancer and that fans were shaving their heads to show support for the pop star. That same day, YouTuber Advancedhackss uploaded a video titled “Justin Bieber has cancer, support him! #baldforbieber,” which featured a slideshow of people who purportedly shaved their heads in support of Bieber (shown below, left). Later that day, YouTuber Lexie Turner uploaded a video urging viewers to support Bieber by shaving their heads (shown below, right).
On October 24th, the site BaldForBieber was launched to feature photographs of people with shaved heads holding signs with the hashtag “#BaldForBieber.” On the same day, YouTuber BaldForBieber uploaded a video featuring footage of mothers shaving their heads in support of Bieber during a radio show broadcast (shown below).
On October 25th, the news site Gather published a post titled “Does Justin Bieber Have Cancer?”, which speculated that the rumor appeared to be a hoax. On October 26th, the technology news blog Tech Crunchpublished an article titled “Bald Beliebers Remind Us: Just Because You Read it on Twitter, Doesn’t Make it True,” citing a faked Entertainment Tonight tweet as the origin of the rumor (shown below).
The same day, the hoax was reported by the Internet news blogs BoingBoing, Blame it on the Voices and The Daily Dot. Also on October 26th, Redditor 5K337Lord submitted a post titled “Oh god 4chan I love you,” which included two photographs of women who had shaved their heads (shown below). Redditor ErroneousDylan replied to the post, claiming that the hoax started with fake Twitter accounts, editing Justin Bieber’s Wikipedia entry and spamming chat rooms.
#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.
On March 12th, 2013, yet another anti-Bieber hashtag #jail4bieber began circulating on Twitter, paired with fabricated rumors that Bieber had molested a 13-year-old girl in England before fleeing the country to avoid prosecution. The hashtag was quickly revealed to be part of a smear campaign led by 4chan users who posted instructions on spreading the ruse on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube (shown below).
According to the Twitter analytics site Topsy, there were over 900 mentions of “jail4bieber” on March 12th. The same day, a Facebook page titled “Jail4Bieber” was launched, which featured photographs of young girls holding signs accusing Bieber of molesting them (shown below). Within 24 hours, the page received over 900 likes. Also on March 12th, The Daily Dot reported on the operation, comparing it to the previous campaigns BaldForBieber and Cut4Bieber.
Anne Frank House Commentary
While touring in Amsterdam on April 12th, Justin Bieber paid a visit to the Anne Frank House, a museum dedicated to the life of the World War II diarist. The next morning, the museum’s Facebook page posted a status update noting  that Bieber had written in the guest book that he had hoped Frank would have been a Belieber. The Facebook post was shared more than 3,200 times by Monday morning.
On April 13th, Anne Frank was mentioned more than 379,000 times on Twitter, up 861% from the previous day’s 44,000 tweets. Commenters on both Twitter and Facebook criticized Bieber for being self-absorbed, with the Huffington Post, TIME and CNN each compiling reaction comments to his message. On the 14th, BBC’s Amsterdam correspondent Anna Holligan tweeted a statement from the press office of Anne Frank House saying that although the comment was not very sensible, they thought Bieber did not have ill intentions when he wrote it. On the following day, the Anne Frank House spokeswoman Annemarie Bekker stated they were “a bit overwhelmed” by the negative response to Bieber’s comment, emphasizing that he is a 19-year-old boy who made the effort to come to the museum. Bekker also tweeted that the museum staff hoped his visit would inspire his fans to learn about Anne Frank’s story.
Gawker – How Justin Bieber Caught a Contagious Syphilis Rumor / 6-14-2010
BoingBoing – 4chan prank means Justin Bieber must tour North Korea / 7-5-2010
Mashable – Twitter Improves Trending Topic Algorithm: Bye Bye, Bieber! / 5-14-2010
Blame it on the Voices – Justin Bieber cancer rumor has Beliebers shave their heads
The Daily Dot – Justin Bieber Fans Shave Heads After Internet Cancer Hoax
The New York Times – Anne Frank House Says Visit By Justin Bieber Was ‘Positive’