Social Media Boycott- why it mattered and still matters

It’s been a little over two weeks since the majority of social media went silent in response to a lack of action by social media companies against online abuse and discrimination.

My podcast, Went To Mow Kingsmeadow, alongside The Chelsea Social/CFCW Social and other groups such as Chelsea Pride and the Chelsea Women’s Supporters Group, stood in solidarity with the Chelsea Women’s team.

At the time Chelsea were playing Bayern Munich in the 2nd leg of the Champions League.

We all watched on as Emma Hayes’ team beat the German’s 4-1 in one of the all time great European games.
I would have loved nothing more than to share in the joy and excitement at making the final with fellow supporters and also the players, but our silence was more important.

Critics and doubters were quick to shout about a social media boycott achieving nothing and that trolls were not going to stop because of this.Which is true of course, but the boycott was never meant to achieve the end goal, it was, the first small step in a very long road.

It’s an important starting point in a seeming uphill battle against companies like Facebook and Twitter to do more, for the Government to put laws in place which force them to do more.

The role of the social media boycott

Social Media can be a very powerful place, a platform for people who’ve suffered to speak out and find the support they need. But it can also be a very dark place, where constant online abuse can make people’s depression worse and in some very sad cases, take their own lives.

This is why I’ve waited a few weeks before writing this piece, to show that our fight against online abuse and discrimination has not ended with the end of the boycott.We are serious about continuing the conversation. We know actions speak louder than words, which is why we are donating 10% of our Patreon income to The Cybersmile Foundation and Kick it out.Two charities who do very important work in dealing with abuse and discrimination. It’s just a small gesture of intent that we hope can help make a difference.

Kick it out deal with racism and discrimination in football and offer not just support for those affected but also offer education in schools to try and stop abuse before it starts.The Cybersmile Foundation offer support and counselling to individuals affected by online trolling.

They too, like Kick It Out, run a number of educational courses for young people to show them the real life effects of what online abuse can do.

We saw almost instantly the reason why continued work against abuse online was still needed when Sky Sports journalist Michelle Owen shared a tweet she’d received and reported.

Twitter’s response was that the tweet violated none of its terms and conditions. Which again shows that they are not taking this seriously nor are they taking responsibility.

I intend to use my platform here and on the podcast to continuing the conversation and if you’d like to be a part of that please get in touch. A social media boycott was not virtue signalling, we are serious about change and demands for change will be heard.

Online abuse and discrimination will not end overnight, but if we continue to make the necessary steps as we did with the boycott, then we can make change.

Written by Dean Mears (@DeanMears)

Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)

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