Bieber-blocking app triggers threats against creator
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Wednesday, June 2, 2010 9:25PM EDT
A New York web developer has triggered a backlash after he designed a Justin Bieber-blocking application that screens out all mentions of the ubiquitous teen pop sensation from a user's computer.
The "Shaved Bieber" application, which can be added to a browser or downloaded as a Firefox plug-in, blocks the words 'Bieber,' 'Justin Bieber,' and any photos with those words in their file names.
Greg Leuch, 25, told CTV's Canada AM he didn't design the application because he dislikes 'the Beebs.' Rather, he came up with it after a co-worker asked him for help.
"It started as a simple project," Leuch said from New York. "A friend wanted me to basically get rid of Justin Bieber from all of the stuff he's researching online. So he asked me to create a simple plug-in to get rid of him, and I thought that would be it."
But after Leuch posted the application to a free technology website, word started to get around, and the backlash began. He started getting hate mail from around the world, sent by angry fans of the teen idol from Stratford, Ont.
"I hate you because you invented Shaved Bieber. Justin Bieber is the best," one wrote.
Another even threatened Leuch's life: "I know many things about you and I know where you live. Just be aware I might appear behind you and shoot you with a gun."
Another compared him to Hitler: "What you're doing is going back to World War II all over again. Hitler wanted to erase Jews from society, you want to erase justin Drew Bieber."
Leuch is taking it all in stride, and said he is more bemused than worried. He offered a light-hearted response to the backlash:
"Oops," he said. "Umm, I mean I really did not expect all this fan backlash, so oops."
In fact, as the hate mail began to pile up, Leuch began sharing it with his friends and even decided to post it online to share with a wider audience.
"I was at first very astonished," he said.
"I didn't expect 12-year-olds to have this much hate. But as I read it I just laughed and had to show a bunch of my friends and everyone else started laughing too so I just started taking screen caps of all these Twitter messages and emails and posting them online to a blog."
While he acknowledged that he has recently become a little more suspicious of any shady-looking tweens he encounters, Leuch said he's not trying to hide his identity or keep a low profile. In fact, he's doing the opposite.
"I'd rather have people know who I am because I don't have any ill will towards Justin Bieber," he said.
"I wouldn't call myself a fan but I don't necessarily hate him and hopefully by doing this interview I'm going on the record straight, saying 'oops, sorry, and don't hate me.'"