30 Most Influential People On The Internet

TIME Magazine reveals its list of thirty most influential people on the Internet. The individuals on the list were picked via their global impact on social media and their overall ability to drive news. Here’s who made this year’s unranked list:
Kanye West
The artist and entrepreneur has perfected the art of the Twitter spree, sharing candid thoughts that are often just as provocative—if not more so—than his music. His tweets can be controversial (see: his comments on Amber Rose and Bill Cosby) and confusing (like his revelation that he’s $53 million in debt), but many do offer constructive criticism of the fashion and music industries. West also used the Internet to shake up the idea of an album as we know it, treating his latest LP, The Life of Pablo, like a work in progress by refusing to sell it (it’s only available on the streaming service Tidal) and promising alterations to its “final” version.
Casey Brodley
The crown jewel of this graphic designer’s online empire, which also includes her popular lifestyleblog, is Pinterest, where Cho has 12.8 million followers. As the most-followed person on the platform, she’s now able to garner big partnerships, including a photo-documented road trip sponsored by Toyota and new lines of baby clothes and nursery and home décor for Target. More recently, she was tapped to design the souvenir eggs for the 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll.
James Corden
Even if you’ve never watched CBS’s Late Late Show, chances are you’ve seen its host singing in a car with Adele. Or playing “tattoo roulette” with One Direction. Or hijacking a tour bus with Jason Derulo. This is a testament to how well the 37-year-old British comedian understands how to be a late-night host in 2016, pushing celebrities beyond their comfort zone to create the kinds of funny, feel-good clips that thrive in the age of YouTube. Chief among them is “Carpool Karaoke,” a semiregular series (now set for a prime-time special) in which Corden chauffeurs famous artists as they bop along to their own hits. The casual setup is more intimate than a studio set, which encourages to guests let loose—and people to watch and share. So far, more than 85 million have watched his outing with Adele, in which the soulful singer wound up rapping along to a Nicki Minaj verse.
Laci Green
In an effort to provide a more approachable version of sex education, the YouTube star offers sisterly advice on everything from hookup culture to body positivity to BDSM. In sum, her videos have amassed 122 million views, turning the 26-year-old, who was raised Mormon, into a millennial Dr. Ruth. She’s now a go-to host (of MTV’s digital series Braless) and ambassador (for Trojan’s “Consent. Ask For It.” campaign)—with a rapidly growing fanbase.
Josh Holz and Daniel Lara
The beauty of the Internet age—or danger, depending on who you ask—is that anyone can start a global phenomenon. Case in point: A high school boy films his friend’s outfit and face each day while repeating “Damn, Daniel!” in an alluringly weird accent, and suddenly the video is everywhere. Josh Holz’s strange cinematic creation, originally uploaded to Snapchat and stitched together into a longer clip, is the rare meme to truly penetrate mainstream pop culture: Holz and Lara appeared on Ellen (Vans gave Lara a lifetime supply of his signature sneakers that he later donated to a children’s hospital) and in Weezer’s beachy music video for “California Kids.” And while hackers eventually took over Holz’s Twitter account and deleted the original video, it hasn’t stopped fans from being back at it again with Daniel-inspired remixes, tattoos and shoes.
DJ Khaled
Just five months after joining Snapchat, the music producer (real name: Khaled Khaled) has become one of the social media platform’s biggest stars and “a meme in human form.” His more than 20 million followers are drawn to his relentlessly positive attitude and numerous catchphrases—like “major keys to success,” or motivational humblebrags that are often marked with the key emoji. But his influence has extended well beyond Snapchat: Earlier this year, the 40-year-old also recorded an inspirational message for Jeb Bush on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and starred in a video promoting ObamaCare as one of his major keys to success. He’s also been on the cover of Businessweek and made an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Johnetta Elzie and DeRay Mckesson
Although there are no official leaders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Elzie and McKesson have both helped meaningfully shape it through the Internet. After gaining national attention for live-tweeting the 2014 events in Ferguson, Mo., they founded WeTheProtesters.org, an online hub and resource center for all #BLM activists. Together, they command an audience of more than 400,000 people on Twitter, and McKesson is running for mayor of his native Baltimore.
J.K. Rowling
More than any other author, J.K. Rowling has cast a spell over the Internet, using Twitter and her website Pottermore to expand the Harry Potter universe. Over the past year, she has revealed everything from why Hagrid can’t produce a Patronus to the fact that Hogwarts tuition is free to the history of North American magic in general (though some criticized her for using details from existing Native American legends). Rowling has also made headlines for fighting with a member of Scottish Parliament, comparing Donald Trump to Voldemort and offering support to fans with depression.
Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg (a.k.a. PewDiePie)
The Swedish gamer (born Felix Kjellberg) touts a record 42.7 million subscribers on YouTube, giving him a reach bigger than most TV networks. Perhaps that’s why he’s starting his own: the 26-year-old recently struck a deal with Disney’s Maker Studios to produce original content for RevelMode, a new virtual network.
Donald Trump
Donald Trump is redefining how political candidates use social media, for better and for worse. Although supporters value his candor, the GOP frontrunner has caught flack for tweeting insults at or about his rivals—alleging that Megyn Kelly is a “bimbo,” for example, and dismissing Marco Rubio as “Little Marco.” All of which bolsters Trump’s virtual presence: the mogul touts almost 7 million followers on Twitter, more than any other presidential candidate, including Hillary Clinton.
Lele Pons
At 19, Pons isn’t just the most-watched person on Vine (where her six-second videos have been played 7.9 billion times); she’s one of the most-watched people on all of social media. Fans flock to the native Venezuelan, who is credited with coining the phrase “doing it for the Vine,” for her practical jokes, which she plays on friends, family and even strangers. But her profile is rising: In October, Michelle Obama invited Pons to the White House to create a Vine advocating for children’s education. And her popularity across multiple social media platforms—including Instagram, Twitter and YouTube—has helped her make ad deals with big-name brands, such as HP, DirecTV, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Guitar Hero.
Cristiano Ronaldo
Although the soccer star doesn’t post as often as some of his contemporaries, he is far and away the most popular athlete on social media and the undisputed king of Facebook, touting some 110 million followers. He’s also only the third celebrity to reach 200 million combined followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, joining previous Time listees Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber. His posts on Facebook and Instagram, in particular, garner an average of one million interactions each, helping Ronaldo earn $27 million a year in off-field endorsement deals.
Caitlyn Jenner
When she came out as a woman last year, the former Olympic athlete instantly became the most famous transgender person in the world—and on social media. Four hours after joining Twitter (in sync with her Vanity Fair cover reveal), Jenner had gained 1 million Twitter followers, beating President Obama’s record. More recently, she’s sparked debate online after making comments that offended some in their implications about what it means to be a woman, even while exposing these complicated issues to a wider audience.
Essena O’Neill
Ironically, the Instagram star only became even more famous after she announced she was quitting the Internet. In a video that made international headlines last November, the 19-year-old revealed to her more than 500,000 followers that she was deactivating her accounts because “social media is not real life.” Although many supported her decision, the backlash from others was so intense that O’Neill entered a period of radio silence. She re-emerged in January with a 6,210-word open letter underscoring her decision; her latest Instagram photos now have captions like “This is what I like to call a perfectly contrived candid shot,” which are meant to illustrate how deceptive the platform can be.
Narendra Modi
The leader of the world’s largest democracy is also an Internet star, boasting more than 18 million Twitter followers and over 32 million Facebook likes. And unlike some of his contemporaries, he often uses social media to break news and conduct diplomacy. On Christmas Day, for example, Modi tweeted that he would visit the Pakistani city of Lahore to wish Nawaz Sharif, the leader of India’s chief regional rival, a happy 66th birthday. On Feb. 12, he also wished a happy birthday to Afghanistan’s Ashraf Ghani. That tweet made headlines for the wrong reasons, though: the Afghan President replied with his thanks, and a polite note that he was actually born on May. 19.
Elise Andrew
If you’ve come across a Facebook post declaring the dawn of “a mini–Ice Age” or the discovery of a new species of fish-eating spider, chances are it came by way of Elise Andrew. The 26-year-old former biology major is the brains behind I F-cking Love Science, a Facebook page (and now a fully staffed blog) that has built an audience of 24 million, eclipsing more established outlets like Popular Science (3.2 million) and the New York Times (10.9 million). Its goal: to highlight “the lighter side of science” in an effort to spark people’s interest. At times, Andrew has been accused of oversimplifying complex issues and promoting stories (like the mini–Ice Age item) that wind up getting debunked. But those critics, she argues, are ignoring the importance of a “staunchly pro-science” news outlet at a time when some presidential candidates deny that climate change exists. “I’m not trying to teach people about science,” she tells TIME via email. “I’m trying to give people that moment where they say, O.K., this is interesting, and I WANT to learn more.”
Ken M
There are trolls haunting every comments section on the Internet, but none are as beloved—or perhaps, as prolific—as Kenneth McCarthy. Online, the 35-year-old comedian, until recently known only by the moniker “Ken M,” plays a good-natured dolt, posting hilariously inept remarks to outrage people who don’t realize the joke is on them. (Underneath an article on the perils of climate change, for example, Ken M demanded that someone “tell obama to plant more tree seeds cause trees convert sunlight into cool air.”) Now he’s something of a folk hero, touting thousands of followers on Facebook and Twitter and his own subreddit. His aim, he has said, is to turn “toxic” spaces—as so many comments sections tend to be—into “a source of belly laughter, so it’s not gross anymore.”
Lilly Singh (a.k.a. Superwoman)
She may not have as many subscribers as PewDiePie, but the Indo-Canadian vlogger is rapidly becoming one of the biggest stars on YouTube, both on and off-screen. As alter ego Superwoman, she is equal parts funny and motivational, which has helped her amass more than 8 million subscribers and over 1.1 billion total views. She recently landed a national YouTube ad campaign and released her first feature film, a documentary chronicling her 27-city world tour, on YouTube’s new paid subscription service; it’s called “A Trip to Unicorn Island,” a nod to her fans, known as Unicorns.
Matt Drudge
If we are indeed witnessing the biggest political media circus in history, then Drudge is its virtual ringmaster. More than 15 years after its launch, his news-aggregation site, The Drudge Report, remains a traffic behemoth, logging some 8.7 billion page views in the past year. That gives Drudge, whose own views skew conservative, an outsize influence on the political news cycle—a fact doesn’t sit well with his critics. But there’s no denying his ability to turn niche stories into national headlines, especially if they allege that Hillary Clinton wears a wig.
Angie Nwandu
As more and more of our own daily interactions happen online, so, too, does celebrity drama. And Nwandu, 25, has made it her business to capture it. Two years ago, she started The Shade Room, an Instagram account and blog that aims to be like Page Six for celebrities on social media: a chronicle of who likes whose posts, who comments on whose photos, and who starts following (or better yet, unfollowing) each other. Since then, TSR has become a burgeoning media empire, replete with its own tipsters, staff (there are now four full-time employees), and advertisers—all of whom serve an audience of 3.9 million. And counting.
Andrew Bachelor (a.k.a. King Bach)
On Vine, the social network for six-second videos, 27-year-old Bachelor commands 15 million followers, more than any other user. His edge: a knack for relatable comedy. Many of his quick videos portray everyday ­scenarios—like trying to get a woman’s ­number—gone awry. Casting directors have taken note: he landed his first major TV acting gig (on Showtime’s House of Lies) within months of his inaugural Vine in 2013. This year he’ll add four feature films to his résumé.
Kayla Itsines
“Fitspiration“—photos of leafy salads, inspirational quotes and well-posed gym selfies—has become a social-media staple, and no one has leveraged it better than Kayla Itsines. The 24-year-old Aussie trainer has parlayed her line of digital workout and nutrition guides (a.k.a. Bikini Body Guides) into a virtual movement on Instagram, on which her supporters post before-and-after images using hashtags like #BBG, #TheKaylaMovement, and #KaylasArmy. Itsines often shares the most dramatic results with her 4.6 million followers, which both engages her followers and evangelizes her brand. While some have criticized Itsines’ methods, her empire continues to grow; her Sweat with Kayla app, for example, continues to chart in the health and fitness section of the App Store.
Peter Bouckaert
For proof that a single tweet can change the world, look no further than Sept. 2, when Bouckaert, the Emergencies Director for Human Rights Watch, shared a photo of Alan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian-Kurdish refugee, lying dead on a Turkish beach. Within hours, the image (taken by Turkish photographer Nilüfer Demir from the Dogan News Agency) had gone viral, drawing attention to the human toll of Europe’s migrant crisis—and perhaps even hastening a response. Two days after Bouckaert’s tweet, the U.K. agreed to accept thousands more refugees.
Kim Kardashian West
Kim Kardashian West is one of the most-watched people on the planet, with more than 120 million followers across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Most recently, she made headlines for posting, and then ardently defending, a series of nude selfies. “I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me,” she wrote. “And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.” The reality star also launched two new mobile apps in the past year, including Kimoji, which features icons of her famous derriere and “ugly cry” face.
Josh Ostrovsky (a.k.a. The Fat Jew)
Josh Ostrovsky’s outrageous alter ego rose to fame over the past few years by sharing funny photos and memes with his millions of Twitter and Instagram followers, often without attribution. (He also wrote a book, Money Pizza Respect, and started a wine label, White Girl Rose.) But his fame reached a tipping point in August. Shortly after news broke that Ostrovsky had signed with talent agency CAA, several prominent comedians—including Patton Oswalt and Chelsea Peretti—mocked him for building a career off of stolen material, kicking off a debate about the ethics of aggregating online content. Eventually, Ostrovsky apologized and vowed to credit all his posts in the future.
More than perhaps any other artist, Drake understands the power of a meme. Last year, he released a strikingly simple video for “Hotline Bling”—most shots were of him doing goofy dance moves amid a neon backdrop—that all but begged to be parodied. And the Internet obliged, churning out countless GIFs, Vines and spoofs that helped make the song his biggest hit to date. More recently, Drake tapped meme culture to settle a score, using fan-made images to taunt rival Meek Mill during a performance.
Tess Holliday
The average American woman is a size 14—which is why many people on the Internet find it so maddening when the fashion industry applies the label “plus-size” to models who appear to weigh less than a normal woman. Among them: Tess Holliday, who created the hashtag #EffYourBeautyStandards for social media users to express dissatisfaction with societal norms and pride in their bodies. The model, who has 1.1 million Instagram followers, is now the living embodiment of her mantra: she’s the first size 22 model to be signed with a major agency, she covered People magazine in May 2015, and recently, she shared a photo of herself in a bikini at “6 months preggo…& still slayin.”
Helen Van Winkle (a.k.a. Baddiewinkle)
It’s never to late to reinvent yourself, especially on the Internet. For proof, look no further than Helen Van Winkle, the 87-year-old Tennessean whose newfound love of eccentric clothing—which she says she uses to cope with the passing of her husband and son—has made her an Instagram sensation. Two years after starting the @baddiewinkle account (her great-granddaughter’s idea), she touts some 1.8 million followers, including Miley Cyrus and Nicole Richie. Now she’s even started to nab fashion campaigns and invites to A-list events.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *