British soap maker Lush is turning away from social media in the middle of Christmas shopping. Is a new wave of boycotts threatening social networks?
The “bath bomb” will burst tomorrow: From November 26th, the British cosmetics manufacturer Lush will withdraw from most social networks. As the company announced, the measure applies to all 48 national brands and to the TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram networks. People want to stay on Twitter and YouTube.
The move is quite remarkable, as the Love brand benefits greatly from digital word of mouth. In Germany, 76,000 people follow the Instagram account, in the United Kingdom 660,000. And that, although the British account was largely shut down in 2019. “With the onset of the 2020 global pandemic, Lush UK decided to re-use the channels that were mothballed in 2019 to a limited extent to respond to the new circumstances that put people around the world in lockdown and thereby even more responsive to the Internet relies ”, so the press release.
But obviously the social networks are a thorn in the side of company founder Mark Constantine Obe. “I’ve spent my whole life avoiding harmful ingredients in my products. Now there is overwhelming evidence that we are at risk from using social media. I am not ready to expose my customers to this damage. So out with it. “
Lush specifically refers to the whistleblower Frances Haugen, who, among other things, brought to light that Meta (then Facebook) ignores internal studies that provide evidence that Instagram can cause mental damage to girls and young women in particular.
Be sure to also read: Facebook withholds critical studies
The freshly minted Facebook lobbyist Julia Reuss sees things quite differently. In an interview with Peter Turi she says: “We rely on science and research to identify and counteract the social impact of changes in media consumption.”
The suspicion arises that the Lush withdrawal from Instagram and Facebook is above all a cleverly conceived PR campaign. TikTok and Snapchat have so far lacked such suspicions, especially since the channels rely less heavily on pure optics than Instagram. Lush has repeatedly preached digital detox in recent years and seen a contradiction between its own brand essence, relaxation and wellbeing. But then it remains incomprehensible why YouTube, the most time-consuming channel, is not also switched off.
A study by Qustodio According to reports, Spanish, American and British children spend an average of 85 minutes a day on YouTube. TikTok follows shortly behind with 80 minutes and has shown the strongest growth compared to 2019. Qustodio is a Spanish company that sells so-called parenting tools that help limit children’s media consumption.
However, the Qustodio study also says that the use of social media doubled during the pandemic. In this respect, Lush does indeed hit a sore point in society with his boycott. The British published a manifesto with anti social media principles:
- We want to use the latest communication tools and developments to interact with our customers and the whole world.
- We want to be in contact with our customers as directly as possible without this interaction being overly controlled by third parties.
- We want to be able to trust that external platforms offer their services in a clear and transparent way that does not obscure their commercial intentions or sources of income.
- We only want to use platforms and services that do their best to protect users from harassment, harm and manipulation.
- We do not want to participate in platforms that use their users’ data in a non-transparent way.
- We prefer platforms that do not use algorithms that lure users with negative content, disinformation or extreme points of view in order to increase their engagement, their clicks and their shares.
- As with any other addicting pastime, we want platforms to design their product in a way that minimizes the risk of overuse and encourages healthy usage.
- The choice of platforms that we use will keep changing. We will always take the above considerations and concerns into account when making decisions about new platforms and services.
Even when examining these theses, it would not immediately come to the conclusion that YouTube satisfactorily meets all the criteria. The great success of the current video Snow Fairy (191,000 views of the short version in the last 16 hours) may have influenced the thinking of the English.
Nevertheless: Experts around the world demand that advertisers put more pressure on social networks in terms of transparency and the protection of minors. Lush is taking a publicly effective first step in this direction. It can be assumed that other brands will follow suit (if it fits their brand essence). The “BR” speculated in September about an imminent boycott.
PS Although the manifesto has already been published, Lush Germany happily continued to post on Instagram on Thursday. The “new” value system will only apply from Friday.