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The price of being retweeted by Bieber: Death wishes

A teenager tweets that she likes Justin Bieber's new album. She isn't even much of a Bieber fan. But when the star retweets her tweet, furious hell ensues.

Barrasford's exasperated retort to her critics. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Should you have long imagined that the world has recently become marginally more insane, but couldn't put your finger on why, please prepare your finger.

For this is the story of a nonfan who paid a star a compliment and received hate for her troubles.

No, Justin Bieber didn't threaten to kill 15-year-old Courtney Barrasford because she isn't, as the moniker goes, a Belieber.

He was actually quite flattered by her tweeted flattery that read: "Not really a fan of Justin Bieber but his acoustic album is really good!"

Canada's most refined export was so moved by this that he retweeted it. Perhaps he's tired of the mindless adulation that emerges from the hearts and mouths of his sometimes emotionally unbalanced followers.

I mention the emotional unbalance of some of his followers, because as soon as he retweeted Barrasford's sweet words, his followers swooped to congratulate her.

If, that is, by "congratulate" you mean "wish someone was dead," "call a whore," and "accuse of being pregnant with Justin Bieber's child."

As the Sun retells it, Barrasford had merely been inspired because her friends in drama class told her that Bieber's new acoustic album -- the imaginatively entitled "Believe Acoustic" -- was believably good.

Soon, the tweeted retorts poured into her Twitter account. Barrasford, from Portsmouth, England, told the Sun: "I had things like 'you're not a fan, go kill yourself.'"

Moreover: "They started saying I was pregnant with his child, and that my child would be a prostitute."

Naturally, this progressed to wishes she would die.

Social scientists sometimes place such odd mob behavior under the category of "deindividuation." They describe such online messaging as "antinormative behavior."

It is, perhaps, similar to the nice, friendly accountant who goes to a football match and suddenly turns into a vile, bile-ejecting animal, ready to maim supporters and players of the opposite team.

One wonders, therefore, how some of the most diehard Beliebers might have felt when the great one turned up an alleged 2 hours late for a concert in London last night.

Even NPR reports that there were little people in tears after they missed their hero because their mommies told them they couldn't stay out any longer.

What might they possibly tweet to their hero today? Sweet nothing, one hopes.