LOS ANGELES -In the 1970s, an angry, maligned rock star would throw his television out of his hotel window, but Justin Bieber has gone for the millennial-style nuclear option – deleting his Instagram account.
The baby-faced Canadian musician, 22, committed online hara-kiri after becoming upset by a barrage of negative comments about his new friendship with Sofia Richie.
The pair have been pictured stepping out together several times in recent weeks, amid a frenzy of rumors linking them romantically.
Reacting to insults posted by fans alongside pictures of the 17-year-old model – singer Lionel Richie’s daughter – Bieber told his 77 million followers: “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.
But the millionaire singer appears to have gone a step further, as clicking on links to his Instagram page now yields an error message.
Fellow singer Selena Gomez, Bieber’s former girlfriend, took the opportunity to twist the knife before the account was deleted.
“If you can’t handle the hate then stop posting pictures of your girlfriend lol – it should be special between you two only,” the 24-year-old posted.
“Don’t be mad at your fans.
They love you.
They were there for you before anyone.
“It’s funny to see people that used me for attention and still try to point the finger this way.
All love,” Bieber countered.
“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.
All love,” Gomez retaliated.
Bieber is the latest in a series of celebrities dealing with abuse on social media by closing their accounts.
Actress and comedian Leslie Jones quit Twitter temporarily in June – devastated by a torrent of racist and abuse aimed at her by trolls.
Bieber recently shut his Snapchat account too, and announced in May that he would no longer be taking pictures 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,” he wrote on Instagram.
“I feel like a zoo animal, and I wanna be able to keep my sanity.
Bieber and Gomez dated for almost two years from January 2011, but spilt up citing busy schedules.
Some fans interpreted “Sorry,” from Bieber’s album “Purpose,” which came out in November last year, as a message from the former child star to Gomez.
Bieber has had a string of legal run-ins for incidents including throwing eggs at a neighbor’s house, driving under the influence of alcohol without a license and allegedly assaulting a photographer.