English football set to boycott social media following racist online abuse

Clubs from the Premier League, the English Football League, the Women’s Super League and the Women’s Championship, as well as the game’s governing bodies and organizations such as Kick It Out, will deactivate their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts from the 30 April to May 1.

In a joint statement, the group said the boycott hoped to “highlight that social media companies need to do more to eradicate hate online.”

“Social media is now unfortunately a regular vector of toxic abuse. Hate has become depressingly normalized, ”said Sanjay Bhandari, President of Kick It Out.

“This boycott signifies our collective anger at the damage this causes to the people who play, watch and work in the game.”

The joint statement also referred to an open letter signed by English football in February, which urged social media companies to quickly filter, block and remove offensive posts, while improving the account verification process.
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Many players have been targeted by racist abuse online.

Social media companies have been widely criticized for allowing racial abuse against footballers to continue on their platforms.

Many players have been victims of online abuse in recent weeks, including Liverpool team-mates Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita.

Asked about the recent announcement, a Twitter spokesperson said: “Racist behavior, abuse and harassment have absolutely no place in our service and alongside our football partners we condemn racism in all cases. its forms.

“We are steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that the conversation about football on our service is safe for fans, players and everyone involved in the game.”

Facebook, the owner of Instagram, said it was “determined to tackle hate and racism on our platform, but we also know these issues are bigger than us, so we look forward to continuing our work with them. industry partners to tackle the problem – both on and off-line. “

Instagram recently launched a new tool that would automatically filter out abusive posts from accounts that users didn’t know about.

Earlier this month, championship club Swansea City and players at Scottish Premiership club Rangers boycotted social media for a week after their stars were targeted online.

Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry has also announced that he will step down from his accounts until social media companies do more to stop online abuse.

Speaking to CNN Sport, Henry said social media is “not a safe place and it is not a safe environment.”

He continued, “I wanted to take a position saying that this is an important tool that unfortunately some people turn into a weapon because they can hide behind a fake account.”

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‘About the weather’

The announcement by English football was welcomed by players, with Sheffield United striker David McGoldrick telling Sky Sports it was “about time” for more to be done.

The group also urged the UK government to pass legislation “to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms.”

Edleen John, FA Director of International Relations, Corporate Affairs and Co-Partner for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, added: “It is simply unacceptable that people in English football and society in general continue to be subjected to discriminatory online abuse on a daily basis, with no real consequences for perpetrators.

“This needs to change quickly, and we continue to urge social media companies to act now to resolve this issue.”

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