UK pub chain JD Wetherspoon has closed all of its social media accounts following concerns regarding the misuse of personal data and the impact on MPs from what it calls “anonymous trolls”.
The company, which owns 900 pubs in the UK and Ireland, tweeted to its 44,400 followers that it would shut all its Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts for its individual pubs and head office with immediate effect.
“We are going against conventional wisdom that these platforms are a vital component of a successful business,” said 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 added in a statement.
The company said “the move follows the bad publicity surrounding social media, including the ‘trolling’ of MPs and others, especially those from religious or ethnic minorities.” It also expressed concern about the “addictive” nature of social media.
“The main issue for us is the commercial one so we think it’s better for our business to concentrate on running pubs rather than getting involved in social media. The second issue is more subjective and it’s concerns about social media generally”, Mr Martin told the Financial Times.
“Most MPs appear to be on social media and I personally feel it’s bad for democracy because there’s a lot of anonymous trolling of MPs and other people and I don’t think it’s right that people who are anonymous can have quite a significant effect on MPs’ behaviour,” he added.
The founder of the pub chain and vocal supporter of the Brexit campaign is not known for shirking the limelight, penning a “New Magna Carta” following the vote to leave the EU and last year calling Bank of England governor Mark Carney “stupid” in an interview on BBC radio.
Mr Martin said the company has no intention of going quiet:
We will still be as vocal as ever through our Wetherspoon News magazine, as well as keeping the press updated at all times. We will also be maintaining our website and the Wetherspoon app and encourage customers to get in touch with us via our website or by speaking with the manager at their local pub.