British cosmetics brand Lush announced this week that it will be quitting several social media platforms in the U.K.
The company, best known for its colorful bath bombs and soaps, has amassed more than 570,000 Instagram, 200,000 Twitter and 400,000 Facebook followers. It has used its social media platforms to promote its products, which are not tested on animals and use minimal packaging, and to advocate for environmental awareness.
Lush’s decision to quit social media may be the company’s latest ethical gambit.
Social media companies have faced mounting criticism in recent months over issues such as misinformation and toxic content. Facebook, which owns the photo-and-video sharing Instagram app, and the popular messaging service Whatsapp, sparked outrage last month when it allowed footage of a New Zealand mosque attack, which left 50 people dead, to live-stream on its website for 17 minutes before it was removed.
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We're switching up social. Increasingly, social media is making it harder and harder for us to talk to each other directly. We are tired of fighting with algorithms, and we do not want to pay to appear in your newsfeed. So we’ve decided it’s time to bid farewell to some of our social channels and open up the conversation between you and us instead. Lush has always been made up of many voices, and it’s time for all of them to be heard. We don’t want to limit ourselves to holding conversations in one place, we want social to be placed back in the hands of our communities – from our founders to our friends. We’re a community and we always have been. We believe we can make more noise using all of our voices across the globe because when we do we drive change, challenge norms and create a cosmetic revolution. We want social to be more about passions and less about likes. Over the next week, our customer care team will be actively responding to your messages and comments, after this point you can speak us via live chat on the website, on email at email@example.com and by telephone: 01202 930051. This isn’t the end, it’s just the start of something new. #LushCommunity – see you there.
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It is not the first time Facebook has been embroiled in controversy. The company is attempting to stop the spread of misinformation ahead of elections in India, where false news spread on WhatsApp has led to mob violence, and Indonesia, where online hoaxes are so rampant that the government holds weekly meetings to de-bunk them. The company faced intense scrutiny for allowing some 500 accounts, likely originating in Russia, to buy Facebook ads during the 2016 U.S. election.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, recently wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post calling for governments and regulators to help social media companies decide the best way to regulate online content.
Governments in some countries have already stepped in. Earlier this month, Australia passed legislation introducing huge fines for companies and potential jail time for their executives if they do not ensure the “expeditious” removal of inappropriate material. The U.K. meanwhile released a policy paper suggesting tough new rules for social media companies that would also make social media bosses personally responsible for harmful content.
It remains to be seen if other corporates will follow Lush’s lead, but the cosmetics firm’s U.S. business has announced that it will continue to use social media for now. “We are happy to share that the North American @LushCosmetics channels aren’t going anywhere,” Lush Cosmetics North America said in a post on Instagram.