Gary Lineker, the renowned Match of the Day host and former England international soccer player, has revealed that he has significantly reduced his usage of X (formerly Twitter) due to its increasing toxicity. Lineker cited changes made to the platform, including the introduction of paid blue ticks for subscribers, as a contributing factor to his decision. Speaking at a recent event, Lineker expressed concerns about the lack of nuanced conversations and the prevalence of vitriolic content on the platform, which led him to prioritize his mental health. Despite this, Lineker emphasized that he will still remain active on X to promote BBC shows, as he has a strong relationship with the network.
Lineker’s Disillusionment with Twitter
Lineker spoke candidly about the deteriorating state of X, describing it as a “cesspit” that has become increasingly toxic. He expressed his frustration at the inability to engage in nuanced conversations on the platform, leading him to step away from that aspect of social media. Lineker attributed his decision to the changes made by X’s new boss, Elon Musk, particularly the introduction of paid blue ticks and the inclusion of tweets from people he doesn’t follow. These changes exposed Lineker to the vitriolic side of the platform, prompting him to prioritize his mental health by reducing his Twitter usage.
Lineker’s Relationship with the BBC
Lineker clarified that his decision to limit his Twitter activity was unrelated to his role at the BBC. He acknowledged that the network values his presence on social media as it helps promote their shows. Lineker briefly touched upon the controversy surrounding his tweet comparing the government’s immigration policy to that of 1930s Germany, which resulted in him being stood down from Match of the Day for a weekend. However, Lineker described the incident as a “lover’s tiff,” emphasizing that he and the BBC have since reconciled.
Controversial Tweets and BBC Guidelines
Lineker’s tweets have recently come under scrutiny, with posts criticizing a Conservative lawmaker and a retweet calling for Israel to be banned from international sports events. Incoming BBC Chair Samir Shah questioned whether these tweets breached the new social media guidelines established by former ITN boss John Hardie. However, Lineker defended Shah, stating that he wasn’t in the role at the time and was put on the spot. Lineker asserted that he has always tried to tweet sensibly and not promote tribalism, focusing on what is right and wrong rather than displaying bias.
Perceptions of BBC Impartiality
Lineker addressed criticisms of the BBC’s impartiality, likening them to complaints about the running order of teams on his soccer highlights show, Match of the Day. He argued that people often perceive bias when it aligns with their own opinions, but impartiality is a constant challenge that the BBC strives to meet. Lineker compared the adjustments made to meet varying expectations of impartiality to the constantly evolving Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system in soccer. He concluded by reassuring the audience that the BBC takes its responsibilities seriously and constantly strives to deliver fair and balanced content.
Gary Lineker’s decision to significantly reduce his usage of X due to its toxicity highlights the challenges faced by public figures on social media platforms. Lineker’s concerns about the lack of nuanced conversations and the prevalence of vitriolic content resonated with many, leading him to prioritize his mental health. Despite this, Lineker emphasized his commitment to the BBC and his role in promoting their shows on X. The controversy surrounding Lineker’s tweets and perceptions of the BBC’s impartiality serve as reminders of the complex dynamics at play in the world of media and social media.