Brian May reflects on social media bullying after Bryan Singer backlash

"It’s made me look again at those stories of kids being bullied to the point of suicide by social media posts from their ‘friends’"

Queen guitarist Brian May has spoken of his fear of the scale of social media bullying after receiving criticism over the recent Bryan Singer controversy.

Last week, May apologised after he appeared to defend Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer over allegations of sexual assault.

Taking to Instagram, May has now said that he has “backed off a little” from social media, and “doesn’t feel the urge to be very interactive right now” in the wake of the criticism he received.

“Yes, that sudden shitstorm last week on my own IG comments page did shock and sadden me,” wrote May. “And it has changed the way I feel about a lot of things. It’s made me ask myself all over again why we all want to do this. Why we want to ‘perform’ on Instagram – what we are looking for. And it taught me a lesson which should have been obvious for a long time ago, and perhaps is good for us all to remember.”

May continued: “It’s a terrible mistake to imagine that all your ‘followers’ are your friends. Thanks again to all of you who believed and supported me in my hour of being pilloried. I’m not going to do anything dramatic. I’m still here. But I will never quite feel the same about Instagram again. That feeling of trust has gone.”

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Packing up after a very productive photo session with brilliant photographer Rankin. Thanks @rankinarchive !!! And … yes, I have backed off a little. I don’t feel the urge to be very interactive right now. Thanks for the good wishes, good IG pals. Thanks for caring. Yes, that sudden shitstorm last week on my own IG comments page did shock and sadden me. And it has changed the way I feel about a lot of things. It’s made me ask myself all over again why we all want to do this. Why we want to ‘perform’ on Instagram – what we are looking for. And it taught me a lesson which should have been obvious for a long time ago, and perhaps is good for us all to remember. It’s a terrible mistake to imagine that all your ‘followers’ are your friends. Thanks again to all of you who believed and supported me in my hour of being pilloried. I’m not going to do anything dramatic. I’m still here. But I will never quite feel the same about Instagram again. That feeling of trust has gone. It’s made me look again at those stories of kids being bullied to the point of suicide by social media posts from their ‘friends’, who have turned on them. I now know first hand what it’s like to feel you’re in a safe place, being relaxed and open and unguarded, and then, on a word, to be suddenly be ripped into. It’s OK – I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m a grown-up – I can deal with it. I’ll just behave a little differently from now on. Take care out there, folks – and I mean that ! Cheers! Bri

A post shared by Brian Harold May (@brianmayforreal) on

The guitarist added: “It’s made me look again at those stories of kids being bullied to the point of suicide by social media posts from their ‘friends’, who have turned on them. I now know first hand what it’s like to feel you’re in a safe place, being relaxed and open and unguarded, and then, on a word, to be suddenly be ripped into.

“It’s OK – I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m a grown-up – I can deal with it. I’ll just behave a little differently from now on. Take care out there, folks – and I mean that!”

The terse defence came on the same day that The Atlantic detailed allegations of sexual misconduct against Singer from four men. In response, Singer immediately denied the claims and described the article as a “homophobic smear piece.”

But May appeared to back down only hours later, and claimed that his initial comment was “a result of my perception that someone was telling me what to do.”

Brian May and Bryan Singer

“I now realise that I was completely wrong in thinking that. You were actually just trying to protect me, for which I thank you. I am mortified to discover the effect my words produced. I had no idea that saying someone was innocent until proven guilty could be interpreted as ‘defending’ Bryan Singer. I had absolutely no intention of doing that,” wrote May.