Justin Bieber Likely Isn’t Dating Sofia Richie: Beware Photo Assumption

Justin Bieber has been seen hanging out with Sofia Richie. No statement has been made that the Biebs is anything other than friends with the 17-year-old daughter of singer Lionel Richie. Until a statement arrives, any speculation is just that. But, it’s interesting to see how far tabloids’ photo assumption travels these days.

On Tuesday, the Daily Mail blared in its headline “Don’t look Lionel! Justin Bieber holds hands with Sofia Richie, 17, on the beach after wild skinny-dipping romp in Hawaii with gaggle of girls.”

The report featured pics of the Canadian and model Richie enjoying a day outing in Laguna Beach, California, last Friday (August 5).

While the paper’s header made much of the pair holding hands, it seems clear from the photos that Bieber was acting like a gentleman and helping Richie steady herself as they walked along the rocks on the beach.

Predictably, that context wasn’t included in the headline. Instead, the Mail ramped up innuendo by referring to the Biebs’ unrelated Hawaiian trip last week with a group of mostly female pals. These including Australian swimwear model Sahara Ray, who the Daily Mail and other media outlets have since taken to calling Bieber’s “girlfriend.”

Media outlets tend to dub any female who is seen in Bieber’s company his “rumored girlfriend.” Yet, as watchdog website Gossip Cop is frequently forced to repeat, the pop icon is still single.

The reason why the Mail mentioned Hawaii should be obvious to most. During his holiday, the 22-year-old singer was photographed nude without his consent or knowledge by paparazzi, who captured Bieber skinny dipping with his guests on the grounds of a private estate. Just like the last time he was papped naked on holiday, the Grammy winner evidently has no basic right to privacy.

Back to Sofia and Justin’s day trip in Laguna Beach. The Mail did manage to factually report that “the pop star was seen giving Sofia a hand as they made their way down the rocks.”

However, the rest of the paper’s report deliberately implies Bieber and Richie’s hangout was romantic. Under one shot of the pair looking at a seal, the online site wrote “… At one point, the twosome held hands before giving their total attention to a resting seal.”

There was more to come. On Wednesday morning, the Mail published an article headlined, “Sofia Richie, 17, wears pajamas as she leaves Justin Bieber’s home early in the morning… after they were spotted holding hands.”

It’s reported that the 17-year-old was spotted leaving Justin’s Toluca Lake home on Tuesday morning to a waiting Mercedes Sedan in a black sports top and what the paper described as “pajamas.” Other media reports show the pajamas (which looked more like jogging sweatpants) have previously been seen on Bieber. That, in and of itself, doesn’t mean much, as friends often wear each other’s clothes.

Bieber was not seen in the Daily Mail’s photos of the model’s morning exit.

Sophia will reportedly be 18 on August 24. She was previously linked to boyfriend Jake Andrews, and the French professional footballer Samir Nasri, 29, before that.

Of course, not knowing a thing hasn’t stopped Justin Bieber fans, fans who aren’t Justin Bieber fans, and members of the public from weighing in on the subject based on nothing more than photo assumption.

But, assumptions are not facts. In the hypothetical event that Bieber and Richie do have romantic feelings for each other, they will likely wait until Sofia comes of age before becoming official.

Some media-weary Bieber fans, who appear to be fed up with tabloids and wider media pushing the narrative that the singer is romancing, dating, or intimately involved with every female he is seen with, took to Twitter to vent.

One by the name of Kathleen railed, “If i believed what the media said, Justin has like 20-30 girlfriends now, I know he good, but realistically not THAT good, lol.”

Another fan reasoned sarcastically, “Two people can’t be friends with y’all starting world war 3…”

Another Bieber devotee chimed, “Sometimes I think J’s fans are worse than the medias when it comes to women he hangs out with.”

Two very funny fans riffed on Bieber’s media-driven Lothario persona. One tweeted, “Excuse me, he’s currently dating Hailey, Sahara, and getting back together with Selena so can y’all not.”

Another added, “Let’s not forget he’s dating Chantel [Jeffries] and Madison [Beer]. The nerve.”

A comedian fan tweeted, “I hope jb and I hang out one day and everyone starts thinking that we’re dating. Hit me with your death threats!”

I hope jb and I hang out one day and everyone starts thinking that we’re dating. hit me with your death threats! pic.twitter.com/iZon930vVh

— bree (@breelieber) August 10, 2016

One Belieber shared a meme with an apt message, writing, “Justin is ALLOWED to have female friends we’ve gone over this already.”

Meanwhile, another fan reminded her followers that while the media milked every last drop out of Justin Bieber’s skinny dipping larks with pals last week, the group also had non-nude fun too. Well, it is summer.

This is the stuff j did in Hawaii he’s so unproblematic yet half his fans made drama bc there was a few girls there pic.twitter.com/WzwnbpNyqg

— ️ (@hoIycoIdwater) August 9, 2016

[Photos by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images, Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images]