The Internet message board 4Chan can’t seem to get enough of heckling Justin Bieber fans. Just two months after it launched a viral campaign to convince the singer’s fans to cut themselves in protest of his alleged drug use, the group has allegedly started a new rumor that Bieber is facing jail time for sexually assaulting a minor.
On Tuesday, some of the message board’s users started the trending hashtag #Jail4Bieber to perpetuate the rumor that Bieber had molested a 13-year-old girl while touring England in early March. According to the Daily Dot, an anonymous 4Chan user first mentioned the plans in the forum /b/ in the the mid-afternoon, urging other users to “spread the news” that Bieber had arrived “late to his first gig because he was sorting legalities out with the [13-year-old girl’s] parents” and was forced to “cancel another gig due to breathing difficulties caused by a panic attack over what he had done.”
Pranksters reportedly took the story to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, where, as of Friday, the term “Jail4Bieber” had been used more than 500 times. While the Daily Dot interjected themselves in the Twitter fracas, writing, “Justin Bieber didn't actually sexually assault a teenage girl. It's just #4chan rustling #beliebers' jimmies again,” the story continued to spread, with many users expressing outrage at the singer’s alleged crime.
“Justin bieber had to leave england because he molested a 13 year old girl. Its true! He should go to jail!” Twitter user @DoubleU_RX wrote.
“So shocked about the news about Justin Beiber,” @supergoman wrote. “Seriously Beiber thats creepy and sick, how could you molest that girl.”
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Some commenters including the Facebook account “Jail4Bieber” also posted what appeared to be photos taken from the front pages of publications such as E! Online, TMZ and the Sun. One screen shot, allegedly taken from the BBC, showed the headline “Justin Bieber child molesting investigation.” It is not immediately clear whether or not the screen shot is of an actual article on the British news site.
The screen-captured story, which was riddled with minor grammatical errors, said, “Police have reported an investigation into the rape of a 13 year old girl after a routine Justin Bieber concert... This was particularly the reason behind the sudden outburst by Justin at his UK transportation cab [sic].”
Many of Bieber’s fans came to his defense, calling the story a fake and denouncing the hoaxers. In the comments section of the alleged BBC post, Facebook user Chris Welham wrote, “Reasons why fake: 1. logo to another site in the bottom right of the picture 2. Media would be all over this, whether the Police wanted it or not 3. Police have no control over what the media post, heard of freedom of speech?”
In January, 4Chan users caused Internet mayhem with the “#Cutting4Bieber” hoax in which they encouraged fans to tweet pictures of themselves cutting their wrists under the guise of fake Twitter accounts purporting to belong to teenage girls. The account users claimed that the motivation for the self-harming photos was to encourage the Canadian pop star to stop smoking marijuana, according to Complex.