Internet fandom has existed since the dawn of the Internet. But Justin Bieber's fans have pioneered a strange new form: Justin Bieber micro-gossip, which painstakingly chronicles the obscure controversies and characters only a true Belieber can follow.

First, a pop quiz: What was the Justin Bieber iChat scandal of June, 2010?

A true Belieber would know all about the big iChat scandal: A screenshot purporting to show a 19-year-old girl flashing Bieber on iChat shot through the Biebersphere a few weeks ago. The girl was identified by Bieber micro-gossips, and she's since become something of an anti-hero among the Beliebers: The (older) slut who tried to seduce their boy king.

Justin Bieber micro-gossip items lie somewhere between classic Teenbeat drivel and fan fiction. They are stories about Justin, but grounded in real people with real Twitter accounts. Usually, they're backed up with some scrap of evidence—a screenshot, for example—that gets passed around along with the story. These stories form a miniature universe of fandom populated by Justin's childhood friends—"The Stratty Boys"—his potential love interests, and the thousands of Beliebers fighting to prove they love Justin the most.

After spending some hours immersed in the frothy hot tub of Bieber micro-gossip, we can break down the stories into three major categories:

Girls trying to date Justin
Bieber micro-gossips like to push the idea that a fan is just one Twitter message away from a date with Justin. One of the most well-known is the girl who, legend has it, actually went on a date with Bieber in LA. But she got cocky and lost it all. Writes the Bieber gossip site BieberHeiress:

They went out to dinner and movie. Simple as that. Yet she took it upon herself to spread rumors that Justin tried to literally get in her pants and do some stuff that no Mama would be proud of. Hmm.

Chronicled also are the love lives of Justin's best friends from Stratford, Ontario, who have become celebrities in their own right. (Ryan Butler, one of the The Stratty Boys, has over 140,000 Twitter followers.)

Justin Bieber's Twitter
Bieber's hyperactive Twitter account is the subject of endless speculation among tween Bieber micro-gossips. A Belieber is sustained by the hope of someday being followed by, and receiving a direct message from Justin on Twitter. And, if they are to be believed, this happens more frequently than you might think. The Bieber micro-gossip site BieberHeiress posted this series of messages Justin allegedly sent to a fan who freaked out after her friends told them they were at a party with him:

Rival Justin Bieber Factions
Justin Bieber factions with names like Bieberswomen andLegalbiebers battle it out on Twitter and blogs to prove their love for Justin. An enemy recently hacked BieberHeiress, the gossip site, leaking alleged messages from Justin scolding the authors of the blog for writing lies about him. When the Bieber iChat scandal broke, Bieberinmypants called out those Beliebers obsessing over the screenshot: "I understand that most of the beliebers are pissed that she flashed 'their man' but honestly get over it. It's in the past nothing can be done about it, so don't bitch at her about it."

Micro-gossip is a weird new form of fandom. For Justin Bieber, it's also a lucrative one. The same enormous networks of Beliebers who send the latest Justin scandal flying around Twitter also organize massive "buyouts," wherein dozens of tweens descend on a mall and buy their entire stock of Bieber paraphernalia to donate to charity. Their quest to connect with Justin leads inevitably to FYE.

[Photo via Getty]

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