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GrandmaBetty33, whose real name was Betty Simpson, was an 80-year-old woman from Jeffersonville, Indiana, battling lung cancer who gained a large following on Instagram as the “Instagranny” after her great-grandson created an account for her in January 2014. She passed away in August 2014.


On January 3rd, 2014, Simpson’s 18-year-old great grandson Zach Belden[1] registered her for an Instagram account[2] and began posting photographs and videos of Simpson as she fights lung cancer. By February 20th, the account had gained over 2,000 followers.

On February 24th, Simpson posted a video of herself dancing to Pharrell Williams’ 2013 song “Happy” from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack album. As of March 2014, the video has over 34,000 likes.

That same day, Williams began following Simpson on Instagram. On March 17th, the recording artist posted a message on his account[3] urging his fans to follow GrandmaBetty33:

“Let’s help @grandmabetty33 get to 100K followers! All the love and support on her Instagram account brings a smile to her face as she fights cancer. Happiness is a human right. Let’s keep @grandmabetty33 smiling”

On March 13th, The Huffington Post[6] covered Simpson’s Instagram account.

The same day, the Twitter account[4] @GrandmaBetty33 was created, though @GrandmaBetty33’s Instagram account confirmed the Twitter account was not created by or for Simpson. The account posts links to the media coverage surrounding Simpson, and as of March 2014, it has gained over 4,000 followers. As of March 14th, @Grandma Betty’s Instagram account had gained over 23,000 followers.

On March 14th, Simpson was featured on ABC Nightly News.[7] When speaking about her cancer in the interview she explained:

“I don’t even think about it.”

On March 20th, @GrandmaBetty33 revealed the account’s official logo (shown below) created by @1FaceWatch.[5]


On July 31st, 2014, a message was posted on GrandmaBetty33’s official Facebook page[8] explaining her health had taken a sharp decline, saying:

“Grandma has been sleeping for the past 2 days with little to no response. Don’t worry though, we are sure she’s not ready to stop fighting yet. Thank you for the continued support from her thousands of followers!”

The post received over 3,000 likes within a week. On August 2nd, another update on her health was posted on the Facebook page which read:

“Grandma is continuously sleeping comfortably with no signs of pain, and we are so thankful for that! She is still surrounded by her loving family! Again, we want to thank everyone for the support you give grandma each and every day.

Later on August 2nd, a post which announced her passing was published, which read:

“After a much needed night of rest, Grandma has come to peace with her battle of Lung Cancer. Although Grandma Betty is no longer physically with us, she will forever be in the hearts of the millions of people she touches every single day. Grandma Betty did not lose her battle to cancer, because her legacy she has left behind will inspire millions of people to #Smile, #BeHappy, and #StayHappy no matter what. The fight has ended. The battle is won.”

Within 48 hours, the post gained over 6,000 likes. The same announcement was posted to GrandmaBetty33’s Instagram account on August 2nd, and within 48 hours, it gained over 77,000 likes and over 24,000 notes.


As of March 24th, 2014, Simpson has gathered over 430,000 Instagram followers.

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