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Wetherspoon's shuts down all social media

By Iain Gilbert

Date: Monday 16 Apr 2018

LONDON (ShareCast) - (ShareCast News) - Pub chain JD Wetherspoon said it was closing down its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, following "bad publicity surrounding social media" in the wake of the Facebook privacy scandal and the increasing use of social media to 'troll' public figures such MPs.
Wetherspoon's founder Tim Martin said on Monday that all its accounts would be shut down, effective immediately.

"We are going against conventional wisdom that these platforms are a vital component of a successful business," he said.

"I don't believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever, and this is the overwhelming view of our pub managers. It's becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion," Martin added.

After the revelation that 87m Facebook accounts were affected by the Cambridge Analytica data breach, the social network colossus admitted that data harvesters had scraped personal profile information on most of its 2bn users. Late last year, Facebook also noted that when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information, as on a social media feed, "they report feeling worse afterward".

Wetherspoon's, which has just short of 900 pubs across Ireland and the UK, the majority of which have individual social media accounts, has more than 44,000 Twitter followers and 100,000 followers on Facebook, but Martin seemed undeterred by potential limitations to the company's reach as a result of the social media blackout.

"We will still be as vocal as ever through our Wetherspoon News magazine, as well as keeping the press updated at all times," he said.

"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."

Martin, who founded the company in 1979 and still keeps his hand firmly on the pump, makes use of his formal corporate news updates to launch fierce critiques of government policy and the EU.

Having campaigned for Brexit during the referendum campaign, he used November's first-quarter sales update to attack other companies for spreading misinformation about the impact of Brexit, while January's second-quarter and March's half-year results saw him fire off a rebuttal of economists and food retailers arguments that food prices will rise as a result of Brexit and lobby parliament to eliminate food taxes as part of the EU divorce proceedings.

As of 0920 BST, shares had ticked ahead 0.26% to 1,155p.