Justin Bieber, the world’s sixth biggest Instagram user, has deleted his account and left the photo and video service.
The Canadian singer had 77.9 million Instagram followers, followed only 75 users and had posted 3,779 images and videos, according to data from Social Blade, which made him one of the biggest draws for users to the Facebook-owned social media site.
Bieber first turned his account to private, limiting access to his photos to those he manually approved, before deleting his account in its entirety leaving visitors to Bieber’s account page are greeted simply with a “Sorry, this page isn’t available” message.
A row with ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez, 24, appears to have been the cause of Bieber’s Instagram disappearing act. He recently posted a series of photos with Sofia Richie, 17, daughter of Lionel Richie, with whom he is allegedly in a relationship.
Fans reacted badly to the new photos, leading to Bieber threatening to shut them out.
Bieber said: “I’m gonna make my Instagram private if you guys don’t stop the hate this is getting out of hand, if you guys are really fans you wouldn’t be so mean to people that I like.”
Gomez then replied: “If you can’t handle the hate then stop posting pictures of your girlfriend lol – it should be special between you two only. Don’t be mad at your fans. They love you. They were there for you before anyone.”
Bieber responded with: “It’s funny to see people that used me for attention and still try to point the finger this way. Sad. All love.
“I’m not one for anyone receiving hate. Hope u all can be kind to my friends and each other. And yes I love my beliebers.”
A social abuse problem
Bieber is the latest in a long line of high-profile celebrities and public figures facing hostility on social media, with Twitter in particular being accused of failing to adequately deal with abuse.
It has stepped up efforts to tackle the problem, with new reporting tools and a quality filter that aims to help keep out abuse from user timelines. It also embarked on an extension of its verification programme, which confirms users are who they claim to be, which was recently only available for public figures.
Instagram and Facebook have faired better than Twitter. Rihanna took a six-month hiatus from Instagram in 2014 after the social network shut down her account in response to her posting of topless pictures.
Should Bieber and other celebrities leave Instagram for good, the photo-sharing service may have a major problem on its hands. While many users share photos with their friends, high-profile characters are a major draw. Should celebrities decide to decamp to rival services such as Twitter, which recently improved its media sharing features, or to quit altogether, Facebook could gain users from Instagram.
Bieber recently shut his Snapchat account too, and has retreated to using only Twitter and Facebook. He posted a photo of himself and dog Todd to Facebook last night.
By Samuel Gibbs