Blackpool, Fleetwood Town and the rest of English football to take part in social media boycott in bid to combat online abuse and discrimination

Blackpool, Fleetwood Town and the rest of English football will unite to take part in a social media boycott in a bid to combat online abuse and discrimination.

Saturday, 24th April 2021, 9:52 pm
Updated Saturday, 24th April 2021, 9:56 pm

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A number of organisations, including the FA, Premier League and EFL, have come together to arrange the boycott, which will run from 3pm on Friday, April 30 to 11.59pm on Monday, May 3.

It comes in response to the “ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football”.

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The boycott, which also involves the League Managers’ Association and Kick It Out, amongst others, has been scheduled to take place across a full fixture programme in both the men’s and women’s professional game.

It will see clubs from the Premier League, EFL, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship switch off their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

“As a collective, the game recognises the considerable reach and value of social media to our sport. The connectivity and access to supporters who are at the heart of football remains vital,” the organisations said in a joint statement.

“However, the boycott shows English football coming together 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.

English football will unite for a social media boycott next week

“In our letter of February 2021, English football outlined its requests of social media companies, urging filtering, blocking and swift takedowns of offensive posts, an improved verification process and re-registration prevention, plus active assistance for law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute originators of illegal content.

“While some progress has been made, we reiterate those requests today in an effort to stem the relentless flow of discriminatory messages and ensure that there are real-life consequences for purveyors of online abuse across all platforms.

“Boycott action from football in isolation will, of course, not eradicate the scourge of online discriminatory abuse, but it will demonstrate that the game is willing to take voluntary and proactive steps in this continued fight.

“Finally, while football takes a stand, we urge the UK Government to ensure its Online Safety Bill will bring in strong legislation to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms, as discussed at the DCMS Online Abuse roundtable earlier this week.”

Two years ago, a number of footballers took part in the #Enough campaign - a 24-hour social media boycott in protest at a similar spate of abuse.

However, there has been a recent increase in abusive messages being sent to players.

Richard Masters, chief executive of the Premier League, said: “Racist behaviour of any form is unacceptable and the appalling abuse we are seeing players receive on social media platforms cannot be allowed to continue.

“The Premier League and our clubs stand alongside football in staging this boycott to highlight the urgent need for social media companies to do more in eliminating racial hatred. We will not stop challenging social media companies and want to see significant improvements in their policies and processes to tackle online discriminatory abuse on their platforms.

“Football is a diverse sport, which brings together communities and cultures from all backgrounds and this diversity makes the competition stronger. No Room For Racism represents all the work we do to promote equality, diversity and inclusion and tackling discrimination.”

The UK government has threatened social media companies with "large fines" if they fail to tackle abuse on their platforms.

EFL chief executive Trevor Birch 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.”

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