NEW YORK – Justin Bieber fans are known for their extreme dedication to the pop icon, but a disturbing Twitter trend that emerged on Monday made it seem that they had take their obsession to a frightening level.
The term #CutForBieber started trending, initially as a joke started by the prankster website 4Chan. The trend comes days after photos surfaced of the “Baby” singer allegedly smoking marijuana.
"Let’s start a cut yourself for Bieber campaign," an anonymous user wrote on a 4Chan message board, according to Billboard. "Tweet a bunch of pics of people cutting themselves and claim we did it because Bieber was smoking weed. See if we can get some little girls to cut themselves."
The sudden surge of self-harm photos, which Gossip Cop reports were both real and fake, sparked outrage from posters.
"Cut for Bieber? [Seriously]?" one user tweeted. "Suicide jokes are not funny on any level."
“#CutForBieber is not something cool,” another wrote. “Some people actually are going through self-harm and can’t stop. Have some respect for those people.”
“Although #CutForBieber was created by the humble denizens of 4chan, I wouldn't be surprised if some teenage girls out there actually did it,” one user wrote.
Some, however, took the prank more lightly, posting photos of people cutting paper, food and even their nails with the trend.
The 4Chan website quickly took down posts urging users to post the gruesome photos, according to Billboard. 4Chan is the same site that allegedly started the #BaldForBieber trend in October, which claimed Bieber had cancer and fans should shave their heads to support the singer.
Child and adolescent psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein told FOX 4111 although most users know the "Cut for Bieber" prompt was prank, the affects will likely not go away quickly.
"It’s really a very challenging message to counteract, especially it being in relation to Justin Bieber," she said. "If someone self injurers there is an addictive quality to it."
Hartstein said the issue of self harm is prevalent among Biebers key demographic--tween and teen girls.
“Self injury is a huge issue amongst the teenage population—especially girls. Some statistics show one in four teenage girls try self injury.”
She added that a message from Bieber regarding the dangers of self injury would likely be helpful in this situation.
Bieber has not directly responded to the #CutForBieber posts or the photos of him allegedly smoking.