Yeah, this actually happened. Earlier this week, internet trolls hailing from 4chan set into motion a pretty involved prank trying to trick Justin Bieber‘s fans into shaving their heads. See, someone started the rumor that Biebs was afflicted with cancer, and that several loyal Beliebers had already shaved their heads in solidarity.
Of course, the cancer hoax kind of self-destructed thanks to the actual sites that had started it. According to this Reddit thread, some people tweeted things like “LOL Best PRANK EVER GO 4CHAN #baldforbieber.” Plus, one guy who was in on the joke also stepped forward not even a day after the hoax started:
This is actually not true at all. I was there when we started this shit. Somebody made a few twitter accounts, we edited Wikipedia, we spammed chat rooms, and we even posted here on Reddit (but it was deleted for lack of evidence). Somebody made a few fake news posts too which were convincing but without a link it wasn’t enough.
The girls you are seeing are actually sisters/girlfriends of a few /b/tards that did this to try and convince other girls to do it. I’m trying to find one of the YouTube videos of some dude’s sister fake crying but I can’t seem to find it at the moment.
Still, even though the trolls kind of ruined their own prank, let’s still examine how much effort they put into this. Being smart folks who spend a lot of their time on the internet, they made sure all bases were covered: “Official” tweets from outlets like Entertainment Tonight and Bieber himself, a #BaldForBieber hashtag, and photos of supposed bald Beliebers.
They also played up the ever-popular conspiracy theories about music management trying to hide the truth, on the BaldForBieber website:
Recently, information regarding our loving artist Justin Bieber has been leaked online. Justin has cancer. At his request, it was kept hidden with help from his agent although some devious people figured out this secret and leaked it over the internet. We would like to embrace this! SUPPORT BIEBER IN HIS STRUGGLE – #BALDFORBIEBER!
Unfortunately — or perhaps fortunately! — the rumor never gained traction even before Reddit debunked it. There don’t seem to be posts from girls who got snookered by the lie, so it seems that not a lot of people went bald unnecessarily. But after reading about this, I’m not really sure how I feel. I cracked up when Drake Bell trolled a bunch of Beliebers over Twitter a few months back, but only people’s egos got bruised. This hoax could’ve been really damaging to a shy preteen who thought she was making a big sacrifice in solidarity to a pop icon and instead had to go to school today with a bald head and her classmates’ laughter.
Of course, I’m just extrapolating. It’s likely that there wasn’t a single victim of the prank. The internet nipped this one in the bud, and not surprisingly after Justin himself tried to pull this kind of shit on us to release his new video. In fact, I wonder if he’s kicking himself for not thinking of this first.
Photos: Ray Garbo/WENN.com, Reddit