Expert says boycott will put pressure on social platforms, but won’t hit pockets

Max McLean, PA
·3-min read

The online boycott from the sporting community will not hit social media platforms’ revenues but will pile the pressure on, according to an expert.

Players, clubs and organisations across the UK began a social media boycott from 3pm on Friday for three days in a stand against hate and discrimination posted online.

Social media consultant and industry commentator Matt Navarra, 41, said the aim of the boycott will be to draw attention to the issue rather than to hit the pockets of the platforms.

Social media consultant and industry commentator Matt Navarra, 41 - Matt sits in a black top against a white background while talking to the camera
Social media consultant and industry commentator Matt Navarra (Matt Navarra/PA)

“Boycotts like these are probably not expected by the clubs or the players to solve the problem,” he told the PA news agency.

“It is a case of drawing attention to the problem.

“We’ve got not just the players in the clubs, but you’ve also got the sporting institutions themselves who are jumping on and standing up for the concerns that the players have.”

Mr Navarra said that social media companies make their money from advertising revenue, which will be largely unaffected by the boycott.

“We’ve seen previously, when there’s been boycotts by big brands, that the impact actually on the bottom line of these companies is fairly negligible,” he said.

“The timeframe that these boycotts last, and the scale of them… is fairly limited. So the actual financial impact on the likes of Twitter or Facebook is limited.”

However, the unity displayed by a range of athletes and organisations will “put pressure” on the tech giants involved.

“It’s going to put pressure on the platforms to continue to work harder to do more,” said Mr Navarra.

“And also, I think there’s a little bit of pressure on governments because they have a role to play in regulating some of this stuff.

“They’re still being very slow in implementing anything meaningful to to regulate it.”

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Mr Navarra said ID and the removal of anonymity has been mooted as a preventative measure in the case of online abuse, but added that both are problematic.

“There are benefits for people who are in very difficult circumstances in certain parts of the world where they need that level of anonymity to feel, you know, the level of freedom of speech,” he said.

“They could also ask people for official ID documentation, but of course, there are all sorts of implications.

“What (will) people feel about giving a government or a big corporate entity more (of) their data?”

Players would find it easier to remove themselves from social media than clubs, he said, with clubs more limited due to “commercial interests and stakeholders” among other factors.

“If… clubs and players didn’t really need social media, we wouldn’t be seeing a boycott,” he said.

“We would be seeing ‘we’re quitting it until you fix the problem’.”