Internet trolls may be influencing Justin Bieber fans to self-harm.
In what could be one of the most shocking trending topics on Twitter in recent months, the hashtag "Cut4Bieber" has rapidly spread across the globe. Initial investigation, according to Gawker is that the trend was instigated by trolls intending to mock impressionable Justin Bieber fans, although it appears that the mockery may have backfired, with teens actually taking part in the gruesome ritual.
Cutting to stop drugs?
The “inspiration” behind the trolling campaign came after reports that superstar Justin Bieber was supposedly photographed smoking dope, and that by Tweeting “Cut4Bieber”, accompanied by pictures of teens cutting themselves, the hashtag would inspire the singer to “stop taking drugs”.
The virality of the hashtag has caused an uproar online- so many pictures of self-harm have been uploaded to Twitter that it’s almost impossible to discern if some of them are actually real. There have even been at least two reports of fans “bleeding to death” as a result of their wounds, complete with memorial accounts.
According to Gawker, the campaign was started by fake accounts, but quickly gained momentum. In addition to the shocking images, outrage has been recorded over other Twitter users joking about self-harm; many of these have insisted that Bieber fans should just go ahead and hurt themselves.
While Bieber himself hasn’t responded to the hashtag, his team released a statement saying that he was in no way involved in taking drugs. He has taken to Twitter to suggest, indirectly, that he’s just growing up and experiencing life.
When jokes aren’t funny anymore
Whether or not the campaign is simply a sick joke, one immediate response is how have so many Twitter users accessed gruesome images of slashed limbs and bloodied wrists? In addition, how many actual sufferers of self-harm may be spurred on to greater acts of mutilation?
It’s clear that Bieber himself is not responsible for the actions of his fans, but, as a teen idol, his influence is far greater than t-shirts and posters: His fans go to great lengths to communicate with him, many of them professing total allegiance and love for him.
As parents, the decision to allow children to use social media often comes with trepidation: Is my child mature enough to understand the difference between the real and imagined worlds of the internet? If your child is an active Twitter user, this trending topic could be the catalyst for a review of internet usage, including what images are acceptable for viewing. Many news sites have also published pictures of self-harm in order to illustrate their stories, but even these could be used to inspire still further mutilation rather than curb it.
What do you think about the trending topic "Cut4Bieber"?
By: Scott Dunlop