Justin Bieber won a victory in his defamation suit, and the ruling could make him the unlikely hero who slays the anonymous internet troll.
Justin Bieber is waging war on the trolls. And the judge presiding over his defamation lawsuit just gave him the license to come out with guns blazing.
While it’s a major victory for Bieber in his quest to vindicate his reputation, the true consequences could have a much broader scope.
Justin Bieber might have just struck a blow that ultimately leads to the death of the internet troll.
This isn’t the outcome anyone expected when two anonymous Twitter accounts accused Justin Bieber of sexual assault.
Like all claims of sexual misconduct, the Bieber allegations should have been – and thankfully, were – taken seriously.
It didn’t take long for the truth to start coming out. Bieber not only denied the charges but filed a full-on defamation lawsuit against the accusers. Based on the evidence his camp has provided, it seems likely the allegations are patently false.
The defamation lawsuit quickly hit a hurdle. The two “women” who accused him made the allegations using anonymous Twitter accounts. No one knows their real names – or if they are even women at all.
Justin Bieber’s lawyer, Evan N. Spiegel, asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry Green for permission to subpoena information about the accounts from Twitter:
We just want to uncover who is behind these two accounts, and it may be the same person.
The judge granted Bieber’s request.
Since the dawn of the internet age, anonymous accounts have been responsible for good, bad, and a whole lot of ugly.
Sometimes anonymity provides a shield for the “good guys” and allows them to call out bad actors in powerful places.
Just as often, anonymity leads to dangerous trolling. From transforming television fandoms into toxic places to enabling hostile state powers to influence elections, anonymity does not always make the web a better place.
In this grand-scale context, Justin Bieber’s fight to unmask the anonymous individuals who accused him of rape seems like small potatoes. Only if you ignore the broader implications, though.
Just by virtue of the existence of the accusation, Bieber could have watched his entire life’s work unravel right before his eyes. That’s the sort of outcome that threatens, not just a single celebrity, but the entire #MeToo movement.
This isn’t just about Bieber getting revenge on the anonymous trolls who targeted him. It’s about setting a precedent – and stopping the next onslaught of false allegations before it arrives.
It won’t happen overnight. But by holding his accusers accountable for their behavior, Justin Bieber may have sounded the eventual death-knell for the anonymous internet troll.