Elton John, along with the well-rounded public, has a low tolerance for homophobic hate speech, especially on social media.
Elton John has a low tolerance for hate speech, specifically when things get homophobic. Now, he’s calling for extreme action: the singer-songwriter recently asked fans to boycott social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram entirely until their platforms change.
Elton says that the largest platforms simply “haven’t done anything to try to stem the flow of hate on the internet.” The five-time Grammy winner recently sat down with BBC News to explain why this is a necessary boycott for today’s society.
“I don’t know why they allow it,” he says. “It’s supposed to be free speech, but the things that are on social media are so disgusting that there has to be action taken by the people who own these companies… People say, ‘well, what about my freedom of speech?’ Well, sod your freedom of speech.”
Marketing on social media plays a huge role in the success of artists these days. Therefore, a boycott of social media — if it ever happened — could hit artists where it hurts: their wallets (via ticket sales, merch, streaming, etc). According to Raffi Keuhnelian, CEO of MusicPromoToday, “Social media has allowed musical talents from around the world to become global superstars. Just think of Justin Bieber, Adele, or The Weeknd — they all ‘made it’ online. It also offers music fans the ability to interact and engage with their favorite musicians.”
Keuhnelian goes on to add, “Fans feel like they have a voice with social media and that they are being heard. Artists use it to communicate with their fans by keeping them in the know-how of the latest news and upcoming releases. Successful artists are those that excel with their digital marketing strategy and reap the rewards of their creative approach.”
Welcome to the sharpest double-edged sword in history.
According to Inc, “Social media marketing also offers a cost-effective solution for bands and their managers to build buzz. For all up-and-coming bands still playing concerts in mom’s basement, this has been a real game-changer. With the potential to reach an audience of millions through a retweet by an influencer, artists can launch their career before it even starts.”
Elton John, of course, was famous long before social media arrived. But maybe there’s a middle ground. “Companies like Facebook and Instagram cannot pretend they are purely private enterprises,” John says. “I believe they have a public role and responsibility.”
“But if we found ways to automatically respond to hatred with fact, good could be all the way around the world before falsehood even got its boots on.”
And regardless of what restrictions or policies that platforms put into place, there’s always going to be someone pushing their limits. They’ll claim “free speech,” thus drawing an even finer line of what can (or should) be enforced.
Ultimately, a full-blown boycott is probably unrealistic, though celebrities like Elton John have the power to start a conversation and maybe have these corporations listen.