Justin Bieber caught in lie over FaceTime screenshot posted to Instagram

Remember, Justin: on your end of the call, your face will be in the small box.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
3 min read

Bieber, his manager Scooter Braun, Kanye West and one unidentified man are accused of bullying Taylor Swift.


Justin Bieber seems to have forgotten how FaceTime works. The popstar inserted himself into a conflict between his manager Scooter Braun and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Taylor Swift this week, and in doing so opened himself up to accusations of lying.

In an Instagram comment, he claimed to be responsible for capturing a screenshot of a FaceTime call featuring himself, Braun and Kanye West, which he then posted online with a caption poking fun at Swift. But unfortunately for Bieber, there was a major discrepancy in his version of the story -- as anyone who has used FaceTime could tell, he can't have captured the screenshot from his end of the call.

The reason it matters is that Bieber appears to be lying to protect the reputation of his manager.

Braun's company, Ithaca Holdings, last week bought Swift's former record label Big Machine Label Group for $300 million, which owns the masters to her first six albums. Following the acquisition announcement, Swift posted a message to Tumblr in which she described Braun's ownership of her masters as her "worst-case scenario," due to his "incessant, manipulative bullying" of her over the years.

Braun, in addition to managing Bieber, also works as an "advisor" to West. In 2016 West released a music video featuring himself in bed next to a model of Swift's naked body, which she described in her post as "revenge porn." Alongside her note, Swift posted a screenshot of an Instagram post by Bieber, in which he appears on a FaceTime call with West, Braun and another man, captioned "Taylor Swift what up." Swift pointed it out as an example of him bullying her on social media.

Coming to Braun's defense this week, Bieber claimed full responsibility for the post and insisted his manager had nothing to with it. "I have to be honest though it was my caption and post that I screenshotted of Scooter and Kanye." he said.

But as Twitter user @Princess_Arella noticed, there's one big problem with his statement -- if Bieber had taken the screenshot from his end of the call, he would have appeared in the top-left corner. Instead his face is filling the screen, indicating that the screenshot was taken from Braun and West's end of the call. The phone appears to be in Braun's hand at the time.

Contrary to what Bieber claims, either Braun (or potentially West) must have taken the screenshot and sent it to Bieber to post on Instagram. Or Braun took it and posted it to Bieber's account himself (it's not unusual for celebrities' managers to have access to their clients' social media accounts). 

Representatives for Scooter Braun Projects, which represents Bieber, didn't respond to request for comment to confirm how the screenshot taken from Braun's end of the call ended up on Bieber's Instagram account.

Not only did Bieber claim that he took and posted the screenshot himself with the caption, but he said that Braun advised against him doing so. In the same breath he said they didn't even discuss Taylor Swift on the call. "He didn't have anything to do with it and it wasn't even part of the conversation in all actuality he was the person who told me not to joke like that," Bieber said.

Fans on Twitter are speculating that Bieber may be trying to cover for his manager -- the irony being that if he hadn't spoken up, the question of who captured the screenshot and Braun's specific role in the incident might not have even been raised.