Should stars such as Justin Bieber take any responsibility for their fans' bad behaviour on Twitter?

 

Courtney Barrasford, a 15-year-old girl, saw overnight worldwide attention when Justin Bieber retweeted her:

"Not really a fan of Justin Bieber but his acoustic album is really good!"

The harmless tweet attracted criticism from some of his fans; she was called a whore and told to 'go kill herself', with jealous tweets from those who wanted to be noticed by the singer. One said:

‘I am a Belieber of him since 2009 and he didn’t notice me. And you’re not even a f****** fan. You get noticed. OMG.’

Apparently, some even took it as far as to send death threats and circulate rumours that she was dating Bieber and was pregnant with his child.

Similar instances of celebrity fans taking abuse too far on social media include:

  • Lady Gaga's 'Little Monsters' hitting out at Adele when both singers were up for the same award, tweeting cruel jibes about her weight.
  • The Monsters hitting out again at Kelly Osborne when she said Gaga was disrespectful for not walking the red carpet, she wrote: "I have been told to die, suck d**k, get raped & that i look like i have aids by @ladygaga fans no wonder they get called bullies. (sic)"
  • American singer Drake Bell started retweeting abusive tweets from Justin Bieber fans after he said he wasn't personally a fan, calling on parents to monitor their children's tweets.
     

Bieber has over 35 million followers on Twitter, and some have been known to show signs of extreme behaviour; at the beginning of this year some fans reportedly took to cutting themselves to show support against him smoking marijuana (after he was allegedly seen with a suspicious cigarette).

Would it be responsible for him - and others with massive followings online - to speak out against bullying and directly ask their fans not to abuse other users on social media?

An open letter to Justin Bieber

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