Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber has been the target of an intense online hate campaign in recent weeks. One of the latest incidents occurred when Justin crowdsourced the decision on which country he should tour first as part of his imminent “My World” tour. North Korea was the winning destination, with a margin of 34,338 votes thanks to a group of pranksters who flooded his website with votes for the communist state. During the last seven days, the 16-year old was also alleged to have had his left testicle removed (815 hits in social media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums), to have contracted Syphilis (207 hits) and to have outright died (679 hits).
DJ Tiesto was also rumoured to have died in a car accident yesterday morning, which made him an instant trending topic. Within a few hours the hoax prompted 11,015 tweets, drawing widespread shock from fans and mock sympathy from fellow musicians such as Deadmau5 and Desto. A far cry from the mocking reaction that was reserved for Justin Bieber.
An article in the Telegraph rightly suggests that one reason for such hatred could be the singer’s phenomenal success at such a young age. Despite this, Justin’s critics seem to outnumber his supporters in social media. Keywords such as “Very Talented”, for instance, only yielded 29 hits in relation to him during the past week.
Perhaps the perceived lack of accountability in social media encourages users to feel justified in casually posting messages of hate. There are social networks, such as Cyworld, that use ‘real-name’ policies – whereby users are required to register their national ID numbers in order to join. While this could be seen as a dent in one’s personal liberties, it is also a policy that greatly discourages abuse and ultimately adds value by improving users’ experience. An interesting article by consultancy firm +8* illustrates (about halfway in) the pros and cons of such approach. If nothing else, it could create a less dreadful online experience for poor, not-so-old Justin.