Justin Bieber is facing criticism for an extended April Fool’s Day prank during which he repeatedly tried to convince his social media followers that his wife, 22-year-old model Hailey Bieber, was pregnant.
Bieber’s attempted joke began midday on April 1, when he shared an uncaptioned picture of an ultrasound scan. The post drew immediate attention, with upwards of 5.7 million likes and 135,000 comments — including an incredulous reaction from Ellen Degeneres, who wrote: “If you’re April Fooling me, so help you.”
As users began to express doubt about whether Hailey was actually pregnant, some discovered that the image posted by Bieber appeared to be the first one to show up on Google Images under the search term “12 week ultrasound.” But Bieber doubled down on the fake-out, sharing images of his wife in the doctor’s office with a nurse running her hand across Hailey’s stomach alongside the caption: “If U thought it was April fools.”
An hour later, Bieber confirmed that the pregnancy was actually a hoax by posting a picture that replaced the fetus in the original ultrasound image with a puppy.
While the Biebs did get some laughs, others excoriated him as for making a joke that is deeply hurtful to women who have suffered fertility issues or miscarriages. Various Instagram posts criticized the prank as “super insensitive” and “traumatic to the women who deal with infertility.” Ahead of the holiday, a number of social media accounts had recommended that making fake pregnancy announcements as pranks can cause some women unnecessary pain.
On Tuesday, Bieber posted an apology (of sorts) explaining that he hadn’t meant to hurt anyone’s feelings.
“There’s always gonna be people offended, there’s also people who don’t take jokes very well, I am a prankster and it was APRIL FOOLS. I didn’t at all mean to be insensitive to people who can’t have children,” wrote Bieiber. “But I will apologize anyway and take responsibility and say sorry to people who were offended. I truly don’t want anyone to be hurt by a prank.”
Read the full story at Buzzfeed.