Wetherspoon calls time on social media

UK pub chain quits Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, citing the negative impact of online trolls

JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin: “It’s becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion,” he said. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin: “It’s becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion,” he said. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

 

You have to hand it to JD Wetherspoon. The UK pub group, which has five bars in Ireland, has turned shutting down its lacklustre social media presence into a publicity coup.

Social media was buzzing with the news that the pub chain was ditching Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, citing the tendency towards online trolling on the platforms. It arguably created more buzz online than its own accounts ever did.

It also gave chairman Tim Martin the opportunity to lecture the general public about their social media use, declaring that we all need to get off our phones and tablets and back into the real world. “It’s becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion,” he said in a statement.

Martin may well have a point about social media addiction. But let’s not get too carried away thinking this “groundbreaking” move will mean much to any of the platforms Wetherspoon has ditched.

Negative reviews

The company hasn’t exactly been a key anchor, managing to attract only 44,000 followers on Twitter, and 100,000 on Facebook. Assuming this general protest against the futility of social media is the real reason behind the move, perhaps it’s not too much of a leap to see it was a waste of its time, considering the negative reviews on some of its pub pages.

Likewise, it’s unlikely that Wetherspoon pubs are going to feel the pinch because one of its 900 pubs doesn’t have a social media presence. Although it seems some of its pubs have yet to get the memo – several Facebook pages were still active as of the time of writing, featuring mixed reviews of their services.

Facebook ether

But they, too, may disappear into the Facebook ether in the near future.

Besides, just because the accounts have been deleted, it doesn’t mean they are gone completely. Wetherspoon has 30 days before its deletion on Twitter becomes permanent.

Facebook delays deletion by a few days, and you can simply deactivate the account to make it invisible instead. Mind you, were Martin to perform a U-turn on his company’s social media presence, it may be one that social media won’t let him forget.