Bieber and Richie — a 17-year-old model and daughter of singer Lionel Richie — have been seen out together in recent weeks, though it is unclear if they are actually a couple. The comments on Bieber's Instagram directed at Richie were so vicious the pop star wrote: "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."
Rather than make his account private, Bieber seems to have chosen the nuclear option. The URL to his Instagram page now points to an error page.
Prior to deleting his account, which had over 77 million followers, the drama in the comments section piqued when Bieber's ex, Selena Gomez, wrote, "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 replied to Gomez: "It's funny to see people that used me for attention and still try to point the finger this way. Sad. All love." Gomez responded again: "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." But in one final twist, per screenshots circulating online, Bieber suggested Gomez had also been unfaithful replying, "I cheated … oh I forgot about You and Zayn?" ostensibly referring to Zayn Malik.
Bieber's decision to delete his Instagram account follows the pop star's decision in May to stop taking photographs with fans in public. "It has gotten to the point that people won't even say hi to me or recognize me as a human," Bieber wrote on Instagram at the time. "I feel like a zoo animal, and I wanna be able to keep my sanity."