Shit just got real.
In the early hours Tuesday morning, Justin Bieber chose to delete his Instagram account. This was, of course, no simple task—the pop superstar had amassed some 77 million followers on the photo-sharing social media network, which is owned by Facebook.
The drama began in earnest late Saturday, when Bieber posted a flurry of photos featuring him and his new rumored squeeze, 17-year-old model Sofia Richie (daughter of Lionel, sister of Nicole) looking chummy. His fan army of Beliebers, who’d just witnessed their deity date Hailey Baldwin (daughter of Stephen, niece of Alec) and frolic nude in Hawaii with Instagram model Sahara Ray, were experiencing social media whiplash, and reacted with vitriol to the coupling, posting negative comments and snake emojis to the Bieber & Richie photos.
Bieber, 22, responded in kind by posting an Instagram photo of the newly minted couple along with the caption, “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 I like.”
What followed was nothing short of an exorcism, as Bieber’s devoted acolytes—who call themselves Beliebers, as if this were some sort of tween religion—began posting on Twitter about how they were not only unfollowing The Biebz on Instagram, but that he’d slighted his devoted fan base, who’d stuck through arrests, eggings, monkey negligence, and all other forms of chicanery, by calling them mere “fans.” How dare you, they seethed. They dragged him, and the #RIPBeliebers trended for over a day.
Things got worse for Bieber. Selena Gomez, his renowned ex-girlfriend, aired him out in the comments of said Instagram photo of Bieber & Richie, posting a comment that read, “Funny how the ones that cheated multiple times, are pointing the finger at the ones that were forgiving and supportive, no wonder fans are mad. Sad. All Love.”
Gomez further commented, “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.” Then Bieber replied, “It’s funny to see people that used me for attention and still try to point the finger this way. Sad. All love.”
Now, Bieber has deleted his Instagram to spite his fandom. Whether they’ll stay along for the ride remains to be seen.