March 29, 2012 at 5:13 PM ET
Like Dark Lord Cthulhu, the Justin Bieber Twitter Army is a force unfathomable in the minds of mere mortals.
As H.P. Lovecraft might describe true Beliebers, once rumored to occupy 3 percent of Twitter services, they are not composed altogether of flesh and blood. They have shape, but that shape was not made of matter. They cannot be controlled. They cannot be contained. Not even by Justin Bieber himself.
Perhaps in the headiness of just turning 18, Bieber forgot this fact. Maybe he never respected it. Whatever the motivation, the pop singer tweeted 9 out of 10 digits of an alleged phone number, and then asked his 19 million followers to "Call me right now." They responded by trying to fill in the 10th digit, causing switchboard chaos. Now Bieber may have to pay for his hubris at the hands of Johnny Lawsuit.
Two Texans are in talks with attorney Emily Horton after they say Bieber's prank tweet resulted in 10s of thousands of phone calls locking up their phone lines and voicemail.
For Dilcie Fleming, 81, of Dallas, the calls started at 10:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night several weeks ago. "Ianswered the phone only because I thought maybe it was a family member," Fleming told msnbc's Tamron Hall. "I explained to (to the caller) that it wasn't Justin's phone number. I hung upand my phone rang again. But the voicemails kept coming, and she says, "they're still going on. "
Fleming's preference isn't to sue. "I would like to have is an apology from him and possiblyconcert tickets for two great granddaughters," she said. As for the calls? "I've vekinda got used to it -- but I'd like for it to quit."
This is the third tale in two weeks of a celebrity's reckless use of Twitter. Yesterday, Spike Lee apologized for retweeting to his 240,000 followers the erroneous address blindly accepted by many as that of George Zimmerman, the man who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon. The elderly couple who did live there are reportedly now staying at a hotel for safety.
Last week, Alec Baldwin mustered a Twitter army against someone he claimed was harassing his girlfriend on the Internet. As we noted then, if the troll harassing his GF really is as bad as he claimed, then, way to fuel a psycho stalker, Alec Baldwin! Conversely, if the troll was just your run-of-the-mill Internet jerk (with or without diagnosable mental issues), then Baldwin just sent thousands of people in that troll's direction.
At least Lee and Baldwin have an excuse -- they haven't witnessed a lot of Internet action based on their every tweet. (That and the fact that they were responding to perceived injustices.) Bieber, however, should know better, considering past chaos wrought by the Believers in cyberspace.
In 2010, when bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding dared to beat out Bieber for the Best New Artist Grammy, Beliebers trashed her Wikipedia page to vent their rage over this shocking injustice.
Selena Gomez, Kim Kardashian and one 15-year-old girl who tore up a Bieber poster on YouTube, all were hit with countless grammatically confused, expletive-inflected, angry death threats via Twitter.
Greg Leuch got both death threats and at least one inappropriate comparison to Hitler for creating ShavedBieber, a Firefox extension that blocks out all Internet instances of "Bieber," "Justin Bieber" and photos with "Bieber" in the file name.
There are no death threats for the two Texas at the end of the wrong numbers. But given the looming threat of of the Beliebers always lurking in Twitter's wings, perhaps the phone-prank plaintiffs should request a pro-active tweet from Bieber to leave the already beleaguered phone owners alone.
It probably won't work -- what with those Beliebers being uncontrollable or containable and all -- but it's worth a shot. I mean, as long as Bieber's on Twitter anyway.