Justin Bieber: Cyber Bully

7 years ago

When Justin Bieber tweeted out his enemy's phone number saying "everyone call me 248-XXX-XXXX :) or text" it was more than another publicity stunt -- it was cyber bullying.

Bieber only left the tweet up for a few minutes, but that is all it takes to have a phone number retweeted over 100 times when you have over 4.5 million followers.

NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 11: Justin Bieber attends a press conference to present a check to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee for Flood Relief at the Bridgestone Arena on August 11, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)


Kevin Kristopik, the owner of the 248 number, got over 10,000 texts from Bieber followers in two hours. Kevin is a teen from the Detroit area, and he posted this video later that night.

(video via: Allie is Wired)

That would be incredibly annoying. He had to delete his Twitter account, and I can only assume that he changed his phone number.

What did we learn from this? Justin Bieber is kind of a jerk. But we cannot forget that he is also just a kid. He is 16 years old. He just happens to be a kid with over four million Twitter followers.

Why did Justin Bieber do this? He was angry because Kevin hacked into into the Twitter accounts of one of Bieber's childhood friends to get the pop star's phone number. Tweeting out Kevin's phone number was payback.

I guess Kevin Kristopik picked on the wrong teen heartthrob.

Here is the thing -- what if Bieber had tweeted Kristopik's home address? You can change your cell phone number fairly easily. It is a snap to delete your Twitter account. How do you convince your parents that you have to move because 45,000 -- just one percent of Justin Bieber's followers -- angry teenaged girls are sending hate packages, toilet papering your house and showing up on your door step?

Here is the other thing: Justin Bieber is 16, and I honestly believe he didn't mean to threaten the other boy's life.

What about grown up cyber bullies? What about the bullies of all ages who actually mean harm?

Fortunately most of the cyber bullies or trolls are just out for power or pageloads.

So how does this business of bullying work? Bullies love a target who has a flaw that can be isolated and ridiculed, usually something that people sort of want to ridicule in general but know better than to do so–until they are given permission...  The target mustn’t be too sympathetic or bystanders may intervene, but all the better if the target is reactive–she cries easily, he wets his pants, she flails awkwardly in defense, he lashes out.  Now when you have a target and feel down or bored or weak and are ready to bully, you poke that mark and poke again until you see the wet pants, cha-ching!  Not only did you win the power play in that cracker jack prize, but you now have the ultimate power:  you can direct the rest of the schoolyard to look, laugh, pile-on.

- Deb on the Rocks

How true, but crap, doesn't that make us all targets?

I have witnessed a great deal of cyber bullying on Twitter in the past few weeks. Most of what I have seen (and I know a lot of this is because of who I follow) has been grownups picking on grownups. I don't think anyone has accomplished anything except perhaps a bump in traffic and some shameless self-indulgence.

We're just lucky they aren't giving out home addresses.


With the explosion of blogging, the internet and social media there is a lot of personal information online. We can still sort of control what private information we give out about ourselves. Most of the time we can regulate how much we tell the internet and how much we keep concealed, but what if someone else is telling Twitter where we live?

Justin Bieber is not on my list of enemies. In fact, that list is very short and none of the people on it have four million followers. I'm guessing that Justin Bieber had no idea what kind fo impact him tweeting out his adversary's phone number the way he did would have. I hope that young Justin has learned what kind of impact a tweet can have -- you know, the whole Spider-Man "with great power comes great responsibility" thing. I'll give Bieber a pass because he is a kid and he doesn't understand fame. I have a bigger problem with adult cyber bullies. I know that they don't all know that is what they are doing, but some of them do.

I haven't even touched on the stuff that goes on with tween and teens on facebook because that subject is too big to fit in this post. Let's just keep in mind that on the Internet, just like on the playground, a bully is a bully and if you ignore them they will usually go away, and if you are lucky, your cyber bully will have significantly less followers than Kevin Kristopik's does.

BlogHer Contributing Editor, Sarah can also be found at Sarah and the Goon Squad, Draft Day Suit and MamaPop.

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