Racist abuse against footballers puts Facebook under pressure

Bellingham (pic) and many others have already experienced racist abuse on social media. — AFP

Racist abuse against professional football players is no longer somethng rare on social media. On the contrary, it’s becoming more frequent ans platforms such Facebook are under increasing pressure.

Marcus Rashford, Sadio Mane, Jude Bellingham, Rabbi Matondo and many others have already experienced it: racist abuse on social media.

Due to the amount of xenophobic and racist comments online, English Championship side Swansea City as well as the Scottish football champions Rangers have boycotted all social media platforms for a week since last Thursday.

Thierry Henry even withdrew completely from social media recently. In an interview with the British broadcaster BBC, the former France international spoke about “the sheer scale of racism and harassment”.

Instagram and parent company Facebook don't tolerate discrimination of any kind, a spokeswoman for Facebook Germany told dpa.

"That's why we fight abusive behaviour on our platforms and want to hold people who share such content accountable."

To this end, the company also cooperates with law enforcement agencies "if there's a proper request for information". For many of those affected, that's not enough.

According to Facebook's latest Community Standards Enforcement report, between October and December last year, 6.6 million pieces of content with hate speech were taken down of Instagram worldwide. Around 95% of the content was found before it was reported.

This was a significant increase in both banned content and detected cases, Facebook said. In the first quarter of 2020, 578,000 pieces of hate content on Instagram were targeted, of which only around 43% were found before they were reported. Instagram has been part of Facebook since 2012.

Wales international Matondo was one of the latest victims.

After attacks at the end of March, the 20-year-old Stoke City striker accused Instagram of doing "absolutely nothing" about racist comments. A short time later, Facebook deleted the corresponding Instagram accounts.

Especially in Britain, resistance is rising against the increase of hate in social media.

Most recently, leading British football officials demanded Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to take stronger action against racism. In a letter to chief executives Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Jack Dorsey (Twitter), they accused both of inaction.

"We've had many meetings with your executives over the years, but the reality is that your platforms continue to be havens for abuse. Your inaction has led anonymous abusers to believe that they are unreachable," the letter read.

According to its own information, Facebook has recently taken "even tougher measures against people who repeatedly send abusive messages".

However, the company doesn't see itself as the only one to blame.

"We're also aware that these problems go beyond our platforms and we're working with the industry and government to drive social change through action and education," the Facebook spokeswoman said.

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Racism , online hate , football


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