UMD community reacts to LUSH’s Anti-Social Media policy
By Emily R. Condon
December 22, 2021
Image Credit: Courtesy of Trung Do Bao for Unsplash
With millions of followers across multiple platforms, LUSH Cosmetics decided to take down its accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. With growing concerns about social media’s impact on teen mental health, the company decided to risk the loss of millions of dollars in an effort to help today’s youth.
In mid September, the Wall Street Journal’s “Facebook Files” report began to shake up the validity of social media. A whistleblower who formerly worked for Facebook, Frances Haugen, had given the WSJ access to reports which showed that the company knew their platforms (including Instagram, which the company also owns) were harmful to the self image of young users. The case has since been brought to the Supreme Court, though conversations about the harmful effects of social media have been occurring for years now.
In a press release on Nov. 16, LUSH announced that the company was taking a new “Anti-Social Media” policy. The press release stated that the company was doing so in response to the Facebook whistleblower in the Wall Street Journal reports, and in the best interest of their customers. The company then suggested that they would be in search of new alternative outlets to connect to customers.
“As an inventor of bath bombs, I pour all my efforts into creating products that help people switch off, relax and pay attention to their wellbeing. Social media platforms have become the antithesis of this aim, with algorithms designed to keep people scrolling and stop them from switching off and relaxing,” said Jack Constantine, CDO and product inventor for LUSH, in the press release.
Danielle Patti, freshman business major, believes that this was a good ethical decision on LUSH’s part.
“It’s corporate social responsibility. That’s LUSH doing their part for their consumers and showing that they care for their health, and more specifically mental health. They’re doing their part to prove that they don’t just care about using social media for interaction with their products. That was a great ethical business move,” Patti said.
Dylan Selterman, a senior lecturer in the department of psychology at the University of Maryland, commented on this during a Zoom interview on Dec. 10. He explained that he does not necessarily agree with the narrative that social media is damaging to health. Selterman has even written about this topic in Psychology Today.
“I don’t think that popular narrative is supported by scientific data. And I am very skeptical about those claims. And I am routinely seeing published scientific work that shows the complete opposite, but it just isn’t getting any attention in mainstream media coverage,” Selterman said.
Although prefacing his statement to include that he does not have much familiarity with the business of advertising, Selterman continued to explain from a psychological standpoint that he does not understand LUSH’s decision.
“If the theory is that when people log onto social media they encounter things that make them feel bad, the logical response to that would be to replace the content that is making people feel bad with content that would make them feel good,” he said.
Selterman went on to question the validity of advertising’s harm through social media in comparison to other platforms.
“One of the things that I think of with the topic of critiquing social media psychology is okay, what is the baseline for comparison? Is the suggestion that when people log onto Instagram and see an advertisement there that it has a different effect rather than seeing the exact same advertisement in a magazine or on the subway or in any other context?” he said.
The LUSH Cosmetics press release stated that the company would not return to social media until a “safer environment for users” was created. The CEO of Meta (formerly known as FaceBook), Mark Zuckerberg, though, has denied the whistleblower’s claims, leaving LUSH’s return to social media yet to be in sight.