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The Globe and Mail

Why did an Internet prankster have to crush the dreams of Taylor Swift fans?

Taylor Swift performs in concert at the Prudential Center on Friday, March 29, 2013 in Newark, N.J.

Charles Sykes/AP

Why you gotta be so mean, Taylor Swift Internet troll?

Boston radio station KISS FM was giving away two tickets to the Taylor Swift concert, along with the opportunity to meet and be photographed with the pop starlet backstage. All was going to plan: Fans visit the site, vote for their friends and check back every day to see who's in the lead.

Instead, the contest was abruptly cancelled when the radio station figured out who the winner was: a 39-year-old man. I'll admit that at first glance, this was a highly prejudiced decision. As a 30-year-old Swift mega-fan, I'm probably out of the target demographic, but would still scream like a tween if I won.

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But the would-be prize winner, Charles Z., had help from Internet trolls, as a friend reportedly told online forums that he wanted to "crush the dreams" of little girls vying for the prize. Online community 4chan, which has been described as the "toilet bowl" of the Web, heeded the call to supply dream-crushing votes.

"Disappointingly," reads the radio station's statement, "we have determined that the integrity of the 'Taylor Swift's Biggest Fan' contest has been compromised. In accordance with our contest rules, effective immediately, the contest has been terminated. We apologize to all of our loyal listeners who have participated."

The anonymous friend who nominated Charles Z. had wrote: "My creepy 39-year-old friend named Charles Z. would like to crush all those girls' dreams (and then sniff Taylor Swift's hair cos he's into that) by winning this instead."

With a little common decency, and maybe better rules and regulations around who can participate, this contest would've seen two very happy "Swifties" (fantatical girls crazy about Taylor) have the unforgettable experience of meeting their idol. But Charles Z. had to be the fly in the ointment, the proverbial scratch in the CD. Of course, it's no surprise – especially to anyone who reads news websites – that people on the Internet can be mean. But doesn't this episode cross a line of basic human decency?

Unsurprisingly, there are Charles Z. defenders: The hashtag #JUSTICEFORCHARLES has started trending on Twitter, and an online petition has been created to award the 39-year-old with the "ultimate fan" experience.

Everyone loves a good practical joke, and sure, the Internet is a great place for some goodies. But as an organizer of The Globe's first Twitter contest, I can only hope Charles Z. and all of his Internet jerks, stays far, far away.

What do you think? Is this blatant ageism on the radio station's part? Or should Charles Z. find a better way to pass the time?

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