It was a rough year for celebrities on social media. In August this summer, Justin Bieber decided to delete his Instagram account following a comment war with his ex-girlfriend, Selena Gomez. Later this year, he also declared Instagram “the devil.” Gomez had a hard time, too, despite breaking the record for the most-liked post of all time. She took a brief hiatus this spring, announcing that she was cancelling her tour due to “anxiety and depression.” Then, at the American Music Awards in November, she explained how broken and vulnerable she had been, adding: “I don’t want to see your bodies on Instagram.”
Perhaps the biggest loss on social media in 2016 was Kim Kardashian, who went fully off the grid following a robbery in Paris. She broke the internet, but the internet may have broken her, too. Meanwhile, Kanye West joined Instagram this year and, in a fashion very true to form, proceeded to post an “installation” of 99 throwback Maison Margiela images the night of his major breakdown.
This, of course, was all before Taylor Swift was outed by Kim Kardashian on Snapchat for lying about her interaction with West over the lyrics to “Famous“, causing her to adopt a more modest pose on Instagram the rest of the year.
The Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley also deleted her account as the result of intense cyber-bullying this year, and Lena Dunham stopped checking Twitter for similar reasons. Kendall Jenner deleted her account briefly, saying that she wanted to spend more time in the real world. And, most recently, Gig Hadid announced that she would be taking a month-long break from Instagram over New Year’s.
But while some were deleting their accounts, others were rose to prominence in their absence. Below, a breakdown of who was in and out on social media this year, and who had the best timeline in 2016.
Bella Hadid, not Gigi Hadid
Bella Hadid really came into her own on Instagram this year, with scantily clad Victoria’s Secret photos and cute couple shots co-starring her on-again-off-again boyfriend, The Weeknd. She also decided to become a professional photographer, so that helps. Meanwhile, her sister took a more political stance this year, calling out body shaming in her comments, and also taking some time off from the app.
Kanye West, not Taylor Swift
Kanye West joined Instagram in September, gaining millions of followers with just a lone cryptic photo. He remained quiet on the app, turning to Twitter to share his thoughts instead. But in November, his collaborator Eli Russell Linnetz allegedly helped him post an “installation” of 99 throwback Maison Martin Margiela images all at once. This also coincided with West’s meltdown on stage, leading to his hospitalization. So, it’s hard to tell what exactly is going on with West’s Instagram account, but everyone is watching. Fewer and fewer people are following Taylor Swift, however, who was publicly shamed by West’s wife, Kim Kardashian, on Snapchat. Swift used to be the queen of showy selfies and group shots, but she’s toned it down significantly.
Sofia Richie, not Selena Gomez
Sofia Richie, the daughter of Lionel Richie, garnered a lot of attention this year after she was seen arm-in-arm with Justin Bieber. It was their relationship that fueled the comment war between Bieber and Selena Gomez, leading them both to take a break from the app. While Gomez holds the title for most liked Instagram post of the year, Richie seemed to enjoy the attention more.
Alessandro Michele, not Marc Jacobs
Marc Jacobs had the best year on Instagram in 2015 because he managed to crawl his way out of a social media-related hole with confidence and charm. But this year, he was rivaled by Gucci’s new creative director, Alessandro Michele, whose Instagram account somehow remains relatively hidden, but is just as glamorous and gilded as his clothing.
Mariah Carey, not Lindsay Lohan
Mariah Carey had a fabulous year on Instagram, flashing her diamonds and yachts throughout. Despite her breakup with her billionaire fiancé though, she still managed to have a better year than Lindsay Lohan, who took to Instagram to call out her fiancé for cheating on her.
Hari Nef, not Karlie Kloss
The supermodel Karlie Kloss shifted her focus from modeling this year to other projects like her video channel Klossy and her Koding with Karlie coding school for girls. She even ditched the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. In her absence, new faces like Hari Nef stepped up; Nef was tapped by cool brands like Gucci and sat front row at Eckhaus Latta during fashion week. Nef’s Instagram is also a breath of fresh air in the modeling circle, with a bold sense of humor and an an unapologetic political leaning.
Beyoncé, not “Becky”
When Beyoncé hinted at her husband’s infidelity in Lemonade April this year, the internet went crazy trying to track down “Becky with the good hair,” as Beyoncé calls the alleged mistress. Most fingers were pointed at the fashion designer Rachel Roy, who was forced to lock her Instagram account when she posted a photo with the caption “good hair don’t care” almost immediately following the drop of the video album. Needless to say, the Beyhive attacked her comments section, and also, hilariously, Rachel Ray’s account, who somehow got caught in the crossfire.
Kylie Jenner, not the other Kardashians
Kylie Jenner’s New Year’s resolution for 2016 was to, like, realize things. “I feel like this year is really about, like, the year of just realizing stuff,” she said. “And everyone around me, we’re all just, like, realizing things.” What she really realized though was how to market herself on social media, from dropping hints about her Lip Kit on Snapchat to promoting her new line of merch with its own Instagram account, which only just launched and already has over half a million followers. On her personal Instagram, she also took after her older sister, Kim Kardashian, by breaking the internet with beach “belfies” and photos of her and her boyfriend, Tyga. Most importantly, Jenner kept it together while the rest of her family fell apart.
Winner of the Best Year on Social Media: Kylie Jenner