FA lead letter to social media platforms with four demands to end online abuse

Now surely they will have to listen.

When the whole of football comes together with one voice – and they are determined to be heard.

It is a powerful message in a letter sent by the Football Association but signed by the key stakeholders within the game.

Put simply: enough is enough.

And there is an overwhelming sense of frustration towards social media companies Twitter and Facebook that more must be done.

Football relies so heavily on social media. If you needed proof then it comes with the boot promotions, sportswear deals or even UEFA’s new tie-up with TikTok for the Euros. But that is in no way any excuse or free pass.

The negativity, threats and abuse have become too much.

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce revealing that he has received “absolutely vile” messages and death threats on social media.

That comes on top of similar messages sent to Premier League referee Mike Dean via members of his family which led to the highly-experienced official asking to be taken off this weekend’s list of games.

Swansea revealed midfielder Yan Dhanda suffered racist abuse after his team’s defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup.

Swansea said they were “appalled and saddened” by the abuse while Manchester City also joined forces with the Championship club to offer their support.

Police are investigating a racist message sent to Bristol Rovers full-back Mark Little while Manchester United ’s Axel Tuanzebe received abusive messages last weekend. That comes on top of abuse sent to Marcus Rashford and West Brom’s Romaine Sawyers.

The list goes on in what has become an all too familiar daily occurrence of racism, abuse and faceless messages which social media companies are accused of not doing enough to tackle.

Instagram announced this week that they will disable accounts of people sending abusive and racist messages online.

Facebook has insisted it will work with British police but, clearly, football does not feel enough is being done beyond paying lip service.

That is why the FA, Premier League, Professional Footballers’ Association, the women’s game, League Managers’ Association, the referees’ body PGMOL and anti-racism group Kick It Out have come together to deliver a powerful letter.

It is addressed specifically to Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey and Facebook's founder, chairman and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to ensure the message gets home.

There can be no more excuses, no more shifting the blame and buying for time. Football wants action – and it wants it now.

The letter urgess them to show some “human decency” by taking action – and accused them of turning a blind eye to the problem.

The letter demands the social media bosses look at the following:

  • Messages and posts should be filtered and blocked before being sent or posted if they contain racist or discriminatory material.
  • You should operate robust, transparent, and swift measures to take down abusive material if it does get into circulation.
  • All users should be subject to an improved verification process that (only if required by law enforcement) allows for accurate identification of the person behind the account. Steps should also be taken to stop a user that has sent abuse previously from re-registering an account.
  • Your platforms should actively and expeditiously assist the investigating authorities in identifying the originators of illegal discriminatory material.

The letter says: "As recent weeks have seen the levels of vicious, offensive abuse from users of your services aimed at footballers and match officials rise even further, we write to ask that for reasons of basic human decency you use the power of your global systems to bring this to an end.

"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 targets of abuse should be offered basic protections, and we ask that you accept responsibility for preventing abuse from appearing on your platforms and go further than you have promised to do to date.

"Many footballers in English football receive illegal abuse from accounts all over the world and your companies have the power to bring this to an end.”

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