Football bosses in England have written a letter to the bosses of the social media giants Twitter and Facebook calling for action to be taken to combat “places of abuse” following a series of racist online incidents.
In an open letter to the platforms’ executives Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg, they were asked “out of basic human decency” to address the long-term problem.
Swansea’s Yan Dhanda was the last person to face racial abuse on social media after his team lost to Manchester City in the FA Cup. A number of Chelsea players including Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzebe and Reece James have been subjected to racial abuse on social media in recent weeks.
“The language used is degrading, often threatening and illegal,” the letter said. “It worries the recipients and the vast majority of people who abhor racism, sexism and discrimination of all kinds.
“We have had many meetings with your executives over the years, but the reality is that your platforms continue to be havens for abuse.”
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The signatories to the letter include Football Association Executive Director Mark Bullingham, Premier League CEO Richard Masters and Chief Referee Mike Riley.
“Their inaction has led the anonymous perpetrators to believe that they are unreachable,” they said.
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The much-discussed letter calls on the platforms to develop mechanisms to combat, filter and block posts with racist or discriminatory content while removing offensive material. An improvement in the verification process to identify account holders has also been requested by the football bosses.
Photo blogging platform Instagram, owned by Facebook, announced new measures on Wednesday to combat online abuse.
The football bosses’ letter recognized the steps taken, but said that “much more is needed to drive change”.
Culture Minister Oliver Dowden said tech giants could face hefty fines under new laws.
“We are introducing a new era of accountability for these (social media) companies with our upcoming Online Security Act. This could result in heavy fines for companies that do not protect their users in a clear and transparent manner,” he said.
(With AFP inputs)