LONDON (Reuters) - Marcus Rashford has highlighted the positive role social media has had in his fight to feed vulnerable families during the coronavirus pandemic and sees some of the criticism he gets on the platforms as a price worth paying to further his campaign.
The Manchester United and England forward started a campaign for food vouchers while British schools were shut last year and his social media posts helped force the government into making a policy U-turn and extending vouchers during school holidays.
"Instagram and Twitter have given me the opportunity to voice my opinion and raise awareness, connect more with families and gain understanding," Rashford told the Financial Times' Business of Football summit on Wednesday.
Rashford is one of several Premier League footballers to be targeted with online racist abuse recently and he has spoken out about it.
Football's governing bodies have urged platforms such as Facebook to act, but Rashford said people should not forget the benefits of social media.
"It's a big positive to be able to make change," he said.
"There's a lot of negative things on social media, people like to highlight that but when it's used for right reasons it should be highlighted too."
Rashford revealed last year that his family often struggled to make ends meet when he was growing up and had to rely on the support of school and friends to ensure he was properly fed.
His campaign led to him being criticised by some Conservative party lawmakers for seeking to "nationalise children" and Rashford has also been accused of meddling in politics.
"I knew what I was stepping into but the campaign is much bigger than the effect it will have on me, I'm willing to take a bit of aggression from wherever it comes from," he said.
"I understood someone in my shoes was a target anyway, and whether I'm doing good or bad things people have opinions of me before they've spoken to me or met me. It's something I've come to terms with, it's part of my life."
(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond)