Premier League, along with the Football Association (FA) , English Football League (EFL), FA Women's Championship, and other footballing bodies will be making a stand against abuse on social media by boycotting Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from 30 April to 3 May 2021. According to a joint statement, the united boycott was agreed upon to emphasise that social media companies must do more to eradicate online hate, while highlighting the importance of educating people in the ongoing fight against discrimination.
Edleen John, The FA's director of international relations, corporate affairs and co-partner for equality, diversity and inclusion, said it is "simply unacceptable" that people across English football, and society more broadly, continue to be subjected to discriminatory abuse online on a daily basis, with no real-world consequences for perpetrators.
"This needs to change quickly, and we continue to urge social media companies to act now to address this. We will not stop talking about this issue and will continue to work with government in ensuring that the Online Safety Bill gives sufficient regulatory and supervisory powers to Ofcom [the office of communications in UK]," he said, adding:
Social media companies need to be held accountable if they continue to fall short of their moral and social responsibilities to address this endemic problem.
In January this year, Manchester United spoke out against an incident of racism against players Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial who were on the receiving end of racist terms and monkey emojis on their Instagram posts. This came after Manchester United suffered a stunning home defeat to Sheffield United on Wednesday. The football club said in a statement that it is "disgusted by the racial abuse" received by players on social media after the game and "utterly condemns it". The club was also encouraged by the fact that many fans on social media also condemned such behaviour.
Trevor Birch, chief executive of the EFL said: "EFL clubs have expressed a clear desire to take a united stand against abhorrent racist, discriminatory, and threatening abuse on social media platforms which we fully support alongside the rest of the football family."
"While we recognise the value and role social media plays in our game, online abuse will not be tolerated and we will continue to strongly pursue all avenues open to us to affect change. The boycott is only part of the work being undertaken in this area but further highlights the need for social media companies to take additional responsibility for the inappropriate and unwelcome behaviour that appears on their platforms," he added.
This follows a letter Premier League sent out to Twitter's Jack Dorsey and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, calling to action for an end to racists abuse on their platforms. The letter that was dated 11 Feb 2021 on their website states that Premier League has seen the levels of "vicious, offensive abuse" from users of Facebook and twitter aimed at footballers and match officials.
"The language used is debasing, often threatening and illegal. It causes distress to the recipients and the vast majority of people who abhor racism, sexism and discrimination of any kind. We have had many meetings with your executives over the years but the reality is your platforms remain havens for abuse. Your inaction has created the belief in the minds of the anonymous perpetrators that they are beyond reach. The relentless flow of racist and discriminatory messages feeds on itself: the more it is tolerated by Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, platforms with billions of users, the more it becomes normal, accepted behaviour," the letter said.
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