Trigger warning: Links in this article may lead to sites with triggering content.
Fans of teen heartthrob Justin Bieber are the targets of a virulent Internet hoax that uses fake Twitter accounts and hashtags like #Cut4Bieber to manipulate them into cutting themselves, supposedly to convince the singer not to smoke pot, The Oregonian reported yesterday.
Earlier this week, as the sham trending topic soared to over 26,000 hits in 12 hours, alarm and disgust also rose. Miley Cyrus joined in Jan. 7, retweeting a message from another user:
“Who tweeted “#cutforbieber? Cutting is NOT something to joke about. There are people who are actually suffering from self-harm, this is so disrespectful.”
The shocking hoax started on a message board at the 4Chan website, Complex revealed Jan. 7, with an anonymous troll suggesting they “get some little girls to cut themselves” by starting a fake movement to get Bieber to stop using marijuana. The thread (which has since been removed) included several, similar hashtags and suggestions to post pictures of acts of self-harm.
While some of the pictures were obvious phonies, TheCelebrityCafe said others appear to be genuine.
The trolls also created fake Twitter accounts, for Mary “Jazzy” Richards and Addison Smith, and falsely claimed the two were dead because of the scam.
Bieber has so far been silent about the hoax.
Cutting and other types of self-injury are not rare. According to HealthyPlace, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 7 males self-harm each year. Even that might be low. Many who cut or self-harm feel shame about it and try to keep it secret.
Yesterday a new web page sprang up, called “Don’t #Cut4Bieber.” Here are some resources to help.
Resources on self-harm:
Multnomah County Crisis Line: 503-988-4888