This article contains explicit depictions of self-harm.
When Beyoncé lost an earring and cut her ear at Saturday’s Tidal concert, her loyal fans showed solidarity by trending the hashtag #CutForBeyonce, and apparently cutting themselves. It’s upsetting if true—self-harm is no joke—but #CutForBeyonce has all the characteristics of a familiar hoax.
Back in 2013, Justin Bieber was caught smoking the good plant, weed. At the time, this was disappointing to his young fans and their parents. The trolls at 4chan’s /b/ capitalized by creating fake Twitter accounts, posing as innocent teens who cut themselves out of disappointment in Bieber’s choice to get high.
#CutForBieber was a pretty big deal at the time, one of the last truly disruptive pranks to come out of /b/. Although it was exposed as a hoax, it got widespread attention and became the basis for later jokes. One of them was #CutForBeyonce. In 2013 and 2014, Bey stans joked about cutting themselves so Beyoncé would release new music, or cutting themselves when the lights went out at her Super Bowl performance.
If Beyonce begun smoking weed there will be a #CutForBeyonce from some people loool— Lori (@JeffChangx) January 22, 2013
If B doesn't perform Halo, Run The World & Single Ladies... #cutforbeyonce— Liren (@TooManyGrammys) February 2, 2013
lights went out on the Super Bowl #cutforbeyonce— ∴ (@xbrigvde) February 4, 2013
The jokes kept going in 2015, but #CutForBeyonce was never really a Thing until Saturday and Beyoncé’s bloody ear. That’s when the Beyhive started bringing it back:
Cutting my earlobe in half. You won't get me not being in Formation. #CutForBeyonce— Siba Madikizela ™ (@SBADZMD) October 16, 2016
Despite appearances, they didn’t actually cut themselves. That bloody ear actually belongs to a man allegedly attacked by a gang in Costa Rica, and the bleeding arm is a photo that appeared during the #CutForBieber hoax more than three years ago.
This time, though, the hoax doesn’t seem to be coming from 4chan. In fact, it doesn’t even seem to be coordinated. It looks like a few folks in the Beyhive thought of the same joke at the same time, and it ended up growing legs.
Now no one’s sure if Beyoncé stans are really cutting themselves or not—”It’s not clear if the movement is a hoax,” writes the Huffington Post—but I couldn’t find any pictures of self-harm that didn’t turn up elsewhere in a reverse image search.
Funnily enough, @chamonille—one of the instigators of the trend—also tweeted #CutForBeyonce back in 2014.
And now she’s bemused at how seriously everyone is taking it, and loving the resulting drama:
What we have here appears to be a joke run amok, not some coordinated effort to harass and injure Beyoncé fans. #CutForBeyonce was an inside job!
In fact, a fair chunk of the posts on the hashtag are pleas not to take it seriously.
Or, on a less positive tip, mocking any fellow fan who didn’t realize it was a joke.
There are no confirmed cases of anyone hurting themselves over this, but it seems like the Beyhive needs to get back in formation before something awful happens.