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LOS ANGELES — Justin Bieber shut down his account on Instagram on Monday night, apparently in response to the pop singer receiving a stream of hate-filled comments on his posts of pictures with his girlfriend, Sofia Richie.
The 22-year-old Canadian singer had 77.8 million followers on the Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing service before his page went dark, deleting more than 3,700 posts.
Bieber had previously threatened to pull the plug after getting trolled relentlessly on Instagram, and a reported feud with ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez. In an Aug. 13 post (now unavailable) he 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."
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For now, Bieber maintains accounts on social-media services including Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. But the singer announced in May that he would stop taking photographs with fans in public, writing on Instagram at the time, "I feel like a zoo animal, and I wanna be able to keep my sanity."
Is Bieber just being thin-skinned in storming off Instagram? Whatever the case, it underscores an ongoing problem for social networks as celebs — who draw millions of fans to their sites — face unfiltered abuse from the Internet.
"Ghostbusters" star Leslie Jones last month left Twitter temporarily after she was deluged with racist comments, prompting Twitter to suspend the accounts of users it said were responsible and leading CEO Jack Dorsey to vow to improve security features.
On Instagram, Bieber had held the No. 7 most-followed account, after Instagram itself (with 182 million followers), Selena Gomez (95 million), Taylor Swift (88.6 million), Ariana Grande (81.9 million), Beyonce (81.6 million) and Kim Kardashian West (79.8 million).
Bieber is repped by CAA, which referred inquiries to his publicists at Universal Music Group. A UMG rep didn't immediately respond to request for comment. An Instagram rep declined to comment.