- Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine accused Billboard of manipulating its Hot 100 charts to give the No. 1 spot to Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande’s charity single “Stuck With U.”
- His single, “Gooba” debuted at No. 3, but he says thousands of units for “Stuck With U” were illegally purchased through six credit cards at the last minute, allowing the song to take the top spot.
- Grande, Bieber, and their manager Scooter Braun denied the claims, accusing the rapper of miscalculating his numbers and explaining that they released their data late as a strategy.
- Bieber also called out 6ix9ine for only referencing Grande in his criticism, while Braun noted that the real winner is the charity earning profits from “Stuck With U.”
6ix9ine Slams Billboard
Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber defended their No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Monday after rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine said they had fraudulently climbed their way to the top.
On May 8, the two singers released their collaboration song called “Stuck With U,” meanwhile, 6ix9ine dropped his new single “Gooba.” Fans of both artists have been waiting to see where the songs would fall in their first week on the Billboard charts.
And on Friday, 6ix9ine posted a video to Instagram accusing Billboard of manipulating the streaming numbers. The video shows him scrolling through what he called a “forecast” of the charts sent to him Thursday. That data showed his song at No 2. and “Stuck With U” at No. 5. He also notably only refers to the song as Grande’s, making no mention of Bieber.
Then he says that at the last hour, “Stuck With U” submitted 60,000 more units “out of nowhere,” which sent it to the top of the charts.
He also showed a tweet from Billboard about a limited time signed CD version of “Stuck With U” that was for sale, and he said that Sony and Universal Music asked for an audit of Billboard’s data because they were suspicious of potential manipulation.
6ix9ine Makes Claims of Illegal Unit Purchases
Then on Monday, the public officially learned that “Stuck With U” debuted at No. 1, while “Gooba” landed two spots below at No. 3.
But shortly before the chart reveal, 6ix9ine took to Instagram again to accuse Billboard of lying and being corrupt. “So listen, I want the world to know that Billboard is a lie. You can buy number ones on billboard,” he said.
He went on to claim that his team conducted an investigation into those last-minute 60,000 units, saying: “They purchased half of those things with six credit cards. When we asked where was those six credit cards linked to, Billboard said ‘we can’t disclose that information.’”
He also said that not all of his streams were counted, showing that Billboard only county 31 million streams when it should’ve been 50 million. “Billboard illegally disqualified 20 million streams so it can drop down, and the people who bought the number one, which was stuck with U, can go to No 1.”
He adds that buying No. 1’s is a practice that is unfair to hardworking artists and even shows his YouTube numbers to emphasize just how popular his single actually was in comparison to others. “And if you want to compete with this, this is in one week…this is 184 million and you counted 30 million streams?”
He also posted another video directly addressing Grande, clarifying that his frustrations are with Billboard not her. However, he stressed that they both come from different backgrounds.
He plays an old clip of himself to show how he found success despite growing up under difficult circumstances. Then he showed clips of Grande on acting on Nickelodeon, suggesting her early beginnings were not as hard. “
I speak for the millions of kids who aren’t as fortunate as you,” he added in the caption of the post. “YOU ARE VERY TALENTED AND BEAUTIFUL GOD BLESS YOU. But you will NEVER UNDERSTAND MY PAIN.”
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@arianagrande All I’m saying is I worked super hard to make it out of Brooklyn NY. I speak for the millions of kids who aren’t as fortunate as you. The millions who weren’t fortunate to be on T.V.. LIFE is REAL when you’re on welfare LIFE is REAL when you grow up with out a father. You don’t know what that is like. You say for me to be humble …. I don’t think you know what humble is………. YOU ARE VERY TALENTED AND BEAUTIFUL GOD BLESS YOU. But you will NEVER UNDERSTAND MY PAIN 💯
Grande, Bieber, and Braun Respond
So, of course, all of these accusations sparked a ton of conversation online, prompting Grande, Bieber, and their manager Scooter Braun to respond.
In a lengthy post, Grande thanked her fans for the success of the song but noted that numbers have never been the driving force behind anything she does. Then she says she has to address the drama because “this has gone a little too far.”
“My fans bought the song. JUSTIN’S fans bought the song. OUR fans bought this song.(never more than four copies each, AS THE RULES STATE). they are ride or die motherfuckers and i thank god every day that i have them in my life.”
She continued, “i know. sales count for more than streams. u can not discredit this as hard as u try. to anybody that is displeased with their placement on the chart this week or who is spending their time racking their brain thinking of as many ways as they can to discredit hardworking women (and only the women for some reason…..), i ask u to take a moment to humble yourself. be grateful you’re even here. that people want to listen to u at all. it’s a blessed position to be in. i’ve had a lot of “almost number ones” in my career and i never said a goddamn thing because I FEEL GRATEFUL TO EVEN BE HERE. TO WANT TO BE HEARD AT ALL …. and you should feel that way too.”
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thank u to everybody who supported this song, this cause and made this happen. we love uuuuu so much. 🤍 there’s so much to celebrate today. 🤍 however, i would like to say a few things. anyone who knows me or has followed me for a while knows that numbers aren’t the driving force in anything i do. i’m grateful to sing. grateful to have people who want to listen. grateful to even be here at all. i didn’t have a number one for the first five years of my career and it didn’t upset me at all because from the bottom of my heart, music is everything to me. my fans are everything to me. i promise i couldn’t ask for another fucking thing. so with this celebration today, i would like to address a few things which i don’t usually do (i don’t give my energy to drama or strange accusations normally but this has gone a little too far)…my fans bought the song. JUSTIN’S fans bought the song. OUR fans bought this song (never more than four copies each, AS THE RULES STATE). they are ride or die motherfuckers and i thank god every day that i have them in my life. not just when they fight for us to win (even when i ask them not to as i did this week) but because they’re some of the greatest people i know. sales count for more than streams. u can not discredit this as hard as u try. to anybody that is displeased with their placement on the chart this week or who is spending their time racking their brain thinking of as many ways as they can to discredit hardworking women (and only the women for some reason…..), i ask u to take a moment to humble yourself. be grateful you’re even here. that people want to listen to u at all. it’s a blessed position to be in. i’ve had a lot of “almost number ones” in my career and i never said a goddamn thing because I FEEL GRATEFUL TO EVEN BE HERE. TO WANT TO BE HEARD AT ALL …. and you should feel that way too. congratulations to all my talented ass peers in the top ten this week. even number 3. 🥰 and thank u to @billboard for this honor. and thank u to everybody who helped us raise a lot of money for a very important cause this week. love u all a lot.
Bieber followed that up with an Instagram story saying that 6ix9ine is counting his global streams in his records when Billboard only looks at domestic streams. He says the 60,000 units were reported late because they chose not to disclose their numbers until the end of the week.
“That’s called strategy,” he explained.
Bieber also called the claim about 30,000 units being purchased on six credit cards a lie. “Nielson company checks this and founds all our sales were legit because our fans are amazing and bought them. Don’t discredit our fan base with false info.”
Finally, he adds, “This is my song with Ariana Grande and I’m honored to work with her to help raise money for a great cause. If you’re gonna say her name make sure you say mine because it’s our song.”
Braun also posted a statement to his Instagram reiterating the same points, and as far as the investigation that 6ix9ine claimed other labels had called for, Braun said: “Yes there was an investigation this week but it was into a video that had 6 times the amount of paid bot activity than the normal video. That video was not ours.”
Braun closed by saying that the ultimate winner is the First Responders Children’s Foundation, where all net proceeds from the track will be donated to fund scholarships for children of frontline workers.
Some viewed this as a reference to the rumors that 6ix9ine used bots to improve his YouTube numbers.
It’s unclear if 6ix9ine was aware of their responses, but shortly after, he posted a photo of himself with six credit cards and the caption: “Don’t worry we’re going #1 next time #billboard.”
Billboard Responds With Article
It stressed that streaming numbers and other data that is publicly visible does not reflect the volume that is included in Billboard’s calculations.
Instead, the article says “each data provider provides a post-audit number to Billboard and Nielsen Music/MRC Data — excluding streams that do not meet long-standing charting parameters, such as U.S.-based-only plays, minimum play length, excessive plays and lack of user verification.”
It noted that the YouTube video count the rapper pointed to is for global plays, without any other auditing filters. It also stressed that the “forecast” 6ix9ine reviewed did not come from Billboard, however, it said that those with access to sales, streaming, and radio data often create their own chart models.
The article attributed the sales spike for “Stuck With U” to the fact that signed versions of the single were put up for sale on Grande and Bieber’s websites on the last tracking day. Several physical formats and digital download bundles were also available throughout the week.
Meanwhile, 6ix9ine, released a non-signed CD single/digital download on his website the last day of tracking.
And as far as his claims about the six credit cards, the article said: “Billboard and Nielsen Music/MRC Data conducts audits on all sales reported with access to purchase-level detail, and works with data partners to recognize excessive bulk purchases and remove those units from the final sales total. All titles this week, as in every week, were put under the same scrutiny.
In response 6ix9ine’s claims that Billboard would not “disclose” information about data when asked, it said that Billboard was open about all information pertaining to “Gooba,” but it could not provide “granular detail on a title to anyone but its content owner.”
Finally, Billboard stood by its data, saying “Overall Stuck With U” drew 28.1 million U.S. streams, 26.3 million in radio airplay audience, and 108,000 sold in the tracking week. Gooba” had 55.3 million U.S. streams, 172,000 in radio airplay audience and 24,000 sold.”
Anti-Vaxxers Spread Conspiracy Theory Claiming Bob Saget Died From COVID-19 Booster Shot
This comes less than a month after anti-vaxxers spread a similar false rumor about comedian Betty White.
Anti-Vaxxers Spread Unfounded Theory About Bob Saget’s Death
Anti-vax and right-wing conspiracy theorists are spreading unfounded claims that comedian Bob Saget died as a result of receiving his COVID-19 booster shot.
Saget, best known for his role as Danny Tanner on “Full House,” died this week at the age of 65 in Orlando, Florida. The Orange County Sheriff’s office said they were responding to “a call about an unresponsive man in a hotel room” and pronounced Saget dead on the scene at the Ritz-Carlton. They found “no signs of foul play or drug use” and some reports have since claimed that it appears Saget may have died in his sleep. No further cause of death has been released.
Not long after the news of his death, anti-vaxxers begin circulating baseless claims that a COVID-19 booster shot killed Saget. Saget said he received his booster shot on a Dec. 13 episode of his podcast. Many have shared a clip where he talks about the booster to suggest that was his cause of death.
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters have been proven to be both safe and effective. That, of course, has not stopped conspiracy theorists from endlessly touting false assertions about unproven side effects and responses.
Claims about Saget’s death being vaccine-related can be found on Twitter, Reddit, TikTok, Telegram, and other social media platforms. Many of the posts, despite containing clear misinformation, have remained on these sites for several days without being taken down.
Candace Owens Promotes Booster Theory
The conspiracy found a large platform this week when conservative news personality Candace Owens discussed it on her Daily Wire talk show. Owens has repeatedly spoken against COVID-19 vaccines and uses her platform to regularly share all kinds of political and cultural misinformation.
During the Jan. 11 episode of “Candace,” which was flagged by Media Matters, Owens said the public has a “right to demand answers” about the circumstances around Saget’s death and the booster.
“I’m just not on Big Pharma’s payroll and I refuse to peddle in their lies. And so to that end, today, I’m going to point out another truth and it will likely be deemed a conspiracy theory until it’s not,” she said. “There are too many healthy individuals, like Bob Saget, who we know have received their vaccinations, who are dropping dead, suddenly and unexpectedly, with no further explanation. Healthy athletes, young students in their physical prime — the majority of them males — dropping dead suddenly and unexpectedly in the middle of games from heart issues.”
Owens continued to peddle anti-vax rhetoric regarding the media and vaccine mandates. She also spewed unsubstantiated suggestions that “healthy men are dying” because of vaccines.
“All of this to say I don’t know why a healthy man, who was in the middle of a comedy tour, suddenly and unexpectedly drops dead in his hotel room,” she continued. “But I do know that we have a right to ask the question. All of us do. In fact, when the entire world has suddenly and unexpectedly been prescribed an injection that we don’t need, it is not only our right to ask questions but also our right to demand answers.”
Anti-Vax Misinformation Has Found A Large Platform
Not even a month before Saget’s death, anti-vaxxers likewise falsely claimed that comedian and actress Betty White died from receiving her COVID-19 booster. White passed at the age of 99, just weeks before her 100th birthday. According to her death certificate, she died from a stroke she had six days before her death on Dec. 31.
After people started falsely claiming the booster caused her death, White’s agent released a statement clarifying these rumors were not true.
“Betty died peacefully in her sleep at her home,” Jeff Witjas told People Magazine. “People are saying her death was related to getting a booster shot three days earlier but that is not true. She died of natural causes. Her death should not be politicized — that is not the life she lived.”
Media platforms have struggled to control the swelling amount of misinformation users constantly spread, specifically regarding the pandemic and vaccinations. While many sites have promised to remove, flag, or fact-check incorrect posts, anyone who wants to find anti-vax information will have an easy time doing so.
This week, a group of doctors and medical workers urged Spotify to lay out a misinformation policy, citing the false claims Joe Rogan has repeatedly made about vaccines on his podcast. Several international fact-checking organizations also recently demanded that YouTube do more to fight disinformation on its service. Over the last year, citizens and politicians have asked that Twitter, Facebook, and Google do more to slow the spread of pandemic-related misinformation.
“While we understand that your companies have implemented policies regarding the removal of vaccine-related misinformation and dedicated resources to stop the spread of misinformation, we believe more must be done,” a group of Democratic senators wrote in a letter to the three company’s CEOs. “It is imperative that you be transparent about the amount of harmful misinformation that appears on your platforms and the effectiveness of your efforts to remove this content, so that public health organizations and experts can respond appropriately.”
See what others are saying: (Insider) (The Daily Beast) (The Daily Dot)
Kim Kardashian, Floyd Mayweather, and Others Sued Over Alleged EthereumMax Crypto Scam
EthereumMax executives and partners are being accused of sharing “misleading promotions and celebrity endorsements” in order to “artificially increase the interest in and price” of the coin.
Lawsuit Alleging Crypto Scam Filed in California
Reality star Kim Kardashian, boxer Floyd Mayweather, and former NBA star Paul Pierce are among several celebrities and executives being sued for allegedly misleading investors into a pump-and-dump crypto scam.
The class-action lawsuit was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by New York resident Ryan Huegerich. Huegerich brought the complaint on behalf of himself and others who claim to have lost money after investing in the coin EthereumMax between May 14, 2021 and June 27, 2021.
Kardashian, Mayweather, and Pierce are among a slew of people with substantial followings who promoted EthereumMax in the spring and summer of 2021. Pierce tweeted about the coin, saying he “made more money with this crypto in the past month” than he did with ESPN in a year. Kardashian touted the cryptocurrency in an Instagram story post that included a link for her followers to “swipe up to join the E-Max community.”
Mayweather drew attention to EthereumMax during his highly-anticipated fight against YouTuber Logan Paul, which accepted the coin as payment for tickets to the event. During the match, he wore shorts with the coin’s name and logo. Mayweather also endorsed the coin during a Bitcoin conference in Miami, Florida.
Plaintiffs Allege Stars Participated in Pump-And-Dump Scheme
The plaintiffs argued that the three stars, along with several others, promoted the coin with false information. According to the lawsuit, the defendants touted “the ability for investors to make significant returns due to the favorable ‘tokenomics’ of the EMAX Tokens” in order to sell their portions for a pump-and-dump profit.
“The Company’s executives, collaborating with several celebrity promotors, (a) made false or misleading statements to investors about EthereumMax through social media advertisements and other promotional activities and (b) disguised their control over EthereumMax and a significant percent of the EMAX Tokens that were available for public trading during the Relevant Period,” the lawsuit said.
“The misleading promotions and celebrity endorsements were able to artificially increase the interest in and price of the EMAX Tokens during the Relevant Period, causing investors to purchase these losing investments at inflated prices,” the suit continued.
The plaintiffs slammed the EthereumMax coin as a “speculative digital token created by a mysterious group of cryptocurrency developers.” According to the lawsuit, the coin “has no connection” to the popular cryptocurrency Ethereum, but uses the name in an effort to “mislead investors into believing that the EMAX Tokens were a part of the Ethereum network (when they are not).”
A spokesperson for EthereumMax condemned the allegations in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.
“The deceptive narrative associated with the recent allegations is riddled with misinformation,” the spokesperson said.
Kardashian, Mayweather, and Pierce have not responded publicly to the lawsuit.
See what others are saying: (The Wall Street Journal) (CNBC) (BBC News)
Cardi B’s Defamation Suit Against YouTuber Goes to Trial
Cardi B claims the YouTuber “became obsessed with slandering and harassing” her.
Cardi B Alleges YouTuber Harmed Her Reputation
The trial for a defamation case rapper Cardi B brought against an entertainment YouTuber began Monday in Atlanta, Georgia.
In the lawsuit, Cardi claims that Latasha Kebe, who is known online as UnwineWithTashaK, repeatedly made false statements in an effort to destroy the “Up” singer’s reputation. The suit alleges that Kebe told her YouTube following that Cardi had worked as a prostitute, used cocaine, cheated on her husband, and had contracted STDs like herpes and HPV.
Kebe reached one million subscribers last week. Her videos get anywhere from 50,000 to 500,000 views.
Cardi has called the purportedly unfounded statements “degrading and harassing.” She says that Kebe began spreading the misinformation in 2018 and has since made dozens of videos furthering those claims.
“Kebe became obsessed with slandering and harassing [Cardi],” the lawsuit says per Rolling Stone, which obtained a copy of the document. “In the 16 months preceding the filing of this lawsuit, Kebe put out at least 38 videos regarding [the rapper].”
What Will Be Argued in Court?
Kebe has denied the accusations and previously countersued, alleging that Cardi encouraged her fans to harass her online. A judge dismissed the suit over a lack of evidence.
According to Billboard, the trial is expected to last two weeks. It is unknown if Cardi will have to take the witness stand herself.
Michael S. Overing, a lawyer and defamation expert not involved in the case, told Rolling Stone that Cardi has good odds of winning her case.
“Cardi probably has a pretty good shot at this one,” he said, noting she had provided “very specific factual statements” that could potentially be “readily proven false.”
“But the problem with these lawsuits, traditionally, is that it’s very hard to prove that you suffered actual damages,” he continued. “This is where the question of actual malice comes in.”
Overing, among other experts, believes that much of this case will come down to whether or not the jury believes that Kebe acted with ill-intent. This means that in order to win the case, the musician’s team will likely have to prove that Kebe knew the claims were false when she spread them.