Following the social media boycott that took place this past weekend – by the the UK’s football industry and many more in the sporting world – questions have been raised surrounding the negative roles social media can play in society. My last blog ‘The Power Of Unity: A look ahead at the 4 day social media boycott by English football clubs’ tells you all you need to know about the social media boycott, what it was, what cause it was for and what the goals of the campaign were.
The digital boycott set out to force social media platforms to change how they address, tackle and respond to online abuse from their users. The social media blackout ended at midnight last night, with many users, organisations and clubs speaking out today to invite social media companies to now respond to their silence with action. This is the response from the Premier League’s this morning:
It is important, from a PR perspective, to keep the momentum going and awareness high if an initiative like this is going to succeed. Follow up interviews, continued promotion and awareness videos are just some of the tools that will increase the positive impacts that will come from this digital campaign.
It has not even been a whole day yet – since the boycott ended – and we have already seen emotional responses and support from some iconic sporting stars. Ex Arsenal player and sports pundit Thierry Henry, discussed his thoughts surrounding the boycott and his views on online abuse with Sky Sports last night:
The footballer reminded viewers that he came off social media because of online abuse and discrimination, which he is still yet to step back onto and reactivate his accounts. He acknowledges and points out that in some cases social media can be great – listing that it helps people communicate globally at the touch of a button, it is great for quickly getting news out there and allows families and friends to share pictures and videos with one another – however, he then fittingly goes on to pose the question “but can we be safe on it?”.
Yes, we are all aware of the positive elements to social media – the reach it can give your business, the volume of traffic it can drive to your sites, the audiences you can quickly build, the global connections that can be made and many more – but if these sites are not a safe space for individuals and organisations to operate on, does it outweigh all these positive features?
There have been mixed opinions and thoughts on the issue across social media, with people of all ages. Steve Bruce (NUFC Manager) spoke to North-East Sky Sports reporter Keith Downie, where he suggested that we are now at the point where it has become normal and expected, in society, to receive abuse online.
Although this tweet did intend to make people laugh with the dog comment, it still brought up the important issue; that this is now becoming an increasing worry with the young and vulnerable generations, with something needing to be done by these digital companies before statistics such as suicide increase anymore. Keith Downie then went on to reiterate the importance of the issue and pledge his support for the boycott.
Although this is a campaign focused on addressing the bad elements that are a part of social media platforms, it has also highlighted just how effective and powerful social media, as a tool, can be. The campaign and message has been picked up across the globe, with organisations such as the Premier League USA getting on board, who putting out this message this morning:
This is a prime example of the positivity that can be spread and impact that can be made, when social media is used for good and not for bad. The football world simply lit the match that will hopefully now go on to start a fire that will wipe out online abuse and discrimination.
There are undoubtedly going to be haters and negative users that remain on these platforms. But hopefully, with this powerful and united message, platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram will begin to identify, remove and punish those who set out to disrupt and attack others online.
I hope that this has made you think about the things you post and share, along with reminding you to be kind when you are online and to use social media for good, not for bad.