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As cultural organisations address divisive issues in an increasingly challenging social media landscape, some are choosing to leave certain platforms after experiencing controversy.

A phone showing social media apps including X (formally Twitter)
Weston Museum said the “recent Twitterstorm to hit the museum” contributed to its decision to leave the social media platform, now called X

Claudia Nass

A museum in the South West of England that faced objections last month over the wording used to accompany an exhibit portraying issues faced by trans people has said the resulting social media ‘storm’ contributed to a decision to leave social media platform X/Twitter. 

Weston-super-Mare Council said in a statement it had discontinued the museum's X/Twitter account on 25 October in part because of the “[recent] Twitter storms to hit the museum”.

Last month it was criticised for removing text accompanying an exhibit after the charity LGB Alliance complained it was “defamatory and homophobic”.


The museum posted about the amendment to the exhibit on 12 October using its former X profile, drawing criticism both from people objecting to the text's removal and those who felt the museum should have issued an apology to LGB Alliance.

Explaining the reasons for removing the museum's X profile, the statement said that along with the controversy, changes to the platform, which had made it incompatible with its scheduling system, prompted “a thorough review of our Twitter presence across all departments”.

They added that logistics with Twitter’s rebrand to X and the platform's data security and privacy practices were also considerations that were factored into the decision.

The move comes after a museum in the North of England also left the social media site following a similar controversy.

Interactions with visitors

In June, People’s History Museum in Manchester was condemned by some users on social media when it emerged that the gender-critical group Sex Matters had hired one of its events spaces.

The museum issued an apology, but its post on X and statement were later deleted over concerns it could be at risk of legal action for belief discrimination.

The group hired a space again in early September, ahead of which the museum suspended its X profile. In a statement on 17 August, it said: “People’s History Museum is a museum about ideas worth fighting for, an activist museum that is seeking a fairer world for all. 

“We’ve chosen to pause our presence on X (formerly Twitter) so that we can reflect on the role it plays in interactions with our visitors, the communities we work alongside and the global changemakers that we ally with.”

Threats and abuse

Arts organisations face an increasingly challenging social media landscape as they attempt to address issues their audiences may find divisive.

Last week, a Freedom of Information request revealed that Theatre Royal Stratford East "paused all social media for a week" earlier this year after its plans to set aside one night's performance of a new play specifically for a Black audience prompted threats and abuse.

Correspondence between the theatre and Arts Council England showed the decision to turn off all social media comments was made to "minimise the abuse that staff and members of the public were receiving".

Helen Palmer, Director of Palmer Squared, a marketing, strategic communications and audience development consultancy, said that social media has "never really been the place for nuanced and insightful discussion and debate".

She added that anyone using X recently "knows that it can often feel like the Wild West frontier in terms of the speed and ferocity of hypercritical attacks and abuse, particularly in relation to what are perceived as hot topics popular with certain mainstream media titles".

She continued: "Sadly, I think we’re going to see more of these social media storms directed towards the arts sector with the lack of checks and balances or effective monitoring on hate speech in place on certain platforms.

"However, what it does show is the importance of ongoing planning for crisis communications, especially having a clear policy regarding how and when to respond or not respond on social media."

A headshot of Mary Stone