Internet trolls are waging war on pop star Justin Bieber and his fans for the second time in just a few months.
Yesterday's attack came in the form of a Twitter hashtag campaign known as #cutforbieber that went viral in a few hours, allegedly started by a young female fan whose self-mutilation was motivated by the Canadian pop star's supposed proclivity for marijuana.
"You stop using drugs and we'll stop cutting. You make this world meaningless and we've lost hope," one fake Twitter account tweeted along with the #cutforbieber hashtag.
The viral nature of the campaign led many legitimate accounts to post photos of slashed wrists and arms with anti-marijuana messages and the #cutforbieber hashtag.
It can't be confirmed if any of the photos were authentic or related to this Twitter stunt.
4chan strikes again
The campaign, spurred by TMZ's publication of photos of Bieber allegedly smoking a marijuana cigarette, may have originated on the "random" or "/b/" board of the image-sharing site 4chan.
Famed for their lack of political correctness and embrace of offensiveness, the denizens of the /b/ board have pulled similar stunts in the past, including one in which a dummy Twitter account claimed Bieber had been diagnosed with cancer.
The ensuing Twitter campaign tried to persuade fans to cut their hair in solidarity.
Controlling both sides of the story
Not satisfied with creating a Twitter trending topic, the hoaxers decided to create the backlash as well: Hours after the initial "cutting" account was started, two other new accounts began blaming the original one for the deaths of teenage girls that very day.
"Earlier today, in part with the #Cut4Bieber trend, Addison Smith died of blood loss. This Twitter is a haven to of which to remember her by," said an account calling itself @RememberAddison. (A similar feed, @Justice4Jazzy, has been suspended.)
There are at least 40 accounts belonging to different individuals named Addison Smith on Facebook and LinkedIn. None of their avatar photos match the one used on the @RememberAddison account, which was apparently taken from an unrelated website.
Despite its blatant phoniness, plenty of Twitter users who retweeted the "#rememberaddison" hashtag Tuesday afternoon seemed to believe it. A slightly smaller number realized it was part of a hoax.
Around the same time, another group of online trolls, the GNAA, were beginning the next Internet hoax campaign.
"GNAA to host candlelight vigil with longtime archnemesis Slashdot to honor Leonard Nimoy at 8PM outside the office," the group said on its @Gary_Niger Twitter feed, accompanied by a photo of the "Star Trek" actor with the words "1931-2013."