Until this week, I had never heard of the website Faxo.com, officially launched on July 31st, 2009 and based in St. Louis, MO, or its adjacent parent company e2e Partners. Comically enough, a quick look at the e2e website reveals that despite a business services motto proclaiming “success is not determined by where you are today, but where you are headed tomorrow,” all items listed at press time on their “Events” page are dated 2002.
Still, over on Faxo, at least one enterprising employee was very much concerned with the notion of where Justin Bieber might be headed tomorrow. Via the company’s Vote Wall, an online poll was launched under the tab Justin_Bieber_My_World_Tour, inviting users to vote on where they wanted to see the ridiculously popular Canadian teenager take his upcoming “My World Tour.” In short order, the powerful Internet BBS 4chan.org started pointing traffic to the faux poll, goosing up the numbers of North Korea to an eventual winner’s status of 659,141 votes.
All manner of North American and UK mainstream media stories were written about 4chan’s efforts to send Bieber to North Korea; lost in the shuffle was the fact that the poll itself was also prank. It wasn’t until Wednesday, July 7th that a Bieber rep finally told MTV News via e-mail what the whole media world should have known in the first place: the interactive survey was a “spoof site” and “not a legitimate contest.”
Think about this for a second. For several days, the western media – the same media that make fun of North Korea‘s propagandist missives – was chronicling the efforts of a bogus initiative to disrupt a bogus poll, without proper disclosure and-or stated awareness of the latter half of the bogus equation. As a result, casual readers were under the impression that 4chan was undermining a sanctioned Bieber exercise when in fact the Faxo Vote Wall being messed with was no more legitimate than your Facebook poll or my Twitter query.
Faxo has since launched several new Justin Bieber Vote Walls including Do_You_Love_Justin_Bieber and Justin_Bieber_Loves_Animals, which seems to have been hijacked by the Justin-come-to-my-country contingent. Add in a subsequent 4chan aided Internet strand about Bieber hating Koreans and we are left with a viral media march that would have done the KCNA proud.