Here are some fun facts you didn't know about Justin Bieber: His biggest musical influence is Devo, and he's even been known to wear the red dome hat. Also, he's rocking a goatee these days. His wife has been surprisingly tolerant of the crazed young female fans clamoring to get his attention. And he doesn't seem at all bitter about not becoming famous till he was 35.
What brought the nearly middle-aged Bieber out of hiding? It was the fact that Facebook deleted his account, without any warning, on the basis that he was using a fake name. Anyone who has ever had an account canceled or suspended by Facebook knows that you have a better chance of getting a personal meeting with the President than tracking down a human employee of Mark Zuckerberg who'll listen to your lament. As he told a Florida TV station, "I guess their policy is ban first, ask questions never." So Bieber took the only route available to him and publicized his plight with the press. It worked; Facebook contacted him after reading news accounts and apologetically conceded that he is a real person.
This Bieber constantly fields phone calls not just from giggling or screaming girls but people wanting to work with him. "Artists say, 'I am going to be working with you this weekend'," he told Florida's First Coast News. "I say, 'No, you're not. You don't want to sing with me.'"
As proof of that, here's the Jacksonville Justin knocking out a few falsetto-free bars of "Baby" on a local radio show:
Here's the weird thing in all of this: If you do a search on "Justin Bieber" on Facebook and click just on people employing that as their user name, you get more than 500 results. So how as it that all these Justin Bieber posers stay in the good graces of Facebook while a real Justin Bieber gets unceremoniously kicked off?
There's probably a good answer to that, even if Facebook won't discuss the issue. Nearly all of those other Justin Bieber accounts on Facebook are accompanied by pictures of the pop star—which is to say, obvious fan pages, presumably established by kids, even if they are incorrectly categorize under "people" and not "pages." But some overcautious Facebook flunky probably came across the photo of a demonstrably aged Justin Bieber and automatically thought: Child predator.
[Related: Justin Bieber's odd new nailpolish venture]
But the happily married Florida Bieber has no designs on anything more sinister than telling the world that there is one more JB out there, improbable as that name duplication might seem. In fact, searches of other social and business network sites turn up several adult Justin Biebers around the country, though none of them responded to our queries, perhaps wary of being dragged in to sing "Never Say Never" against their will on their own local Top 40 stations. (We also tried to reach this Bieber for comment, but—here's a real shocker—he isn't answering his phone.)
Although it took the interference of the press to get Jacksonville Justin restored to Facebook, he had an easier time convincing iTunes' new networking service, Ping to reinstate him after they also blocked his account. (Of course, Ping, which is having trouble getting any traction, might let a guy pretending to be Kurt Cobain on the site at this point, just to up their numbers.)
On his Ping page, Bieber is wearing one of Devo's old trademark yellow Haz-mat-style suits. Maybe this is his chance to record his own iTunes anthem: "Q: Are We Not Boy Singers? A: We Are Beib-o!"
So far, despite a dilemma that some of us might imagine to be a living hell, the 35-year-old Bieber has refrained from knocking his 16-year-old counterpart. Maybe he's enjoying this sweet moment of fame; David Letterman's office has even contacted him about reading a Top 10 list on the show. But it would be interesting to know if before now Bieber has held onto his name with the same fierce justification as the "Michael Bolton" character in the classic comedy Office Space.
As you may recall, the Bolton in that movie opines that "there was nothing wrong with [that name], until I was about 12 years old and that no-talent [blankedy-blank] became famous and started winning Grammys." The Samir character asks. "Why don't you just go by Mike instead of Michael?" The anwswer: "No way! Why should I change? He's the one who sucks."
The day this Bieber says something along those lines is probably the day he not only changes his name but becomes eligible for the witness protection program.
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