Racism on Social Media: Thierry Henry says behaviour online ‘too toxic to ignore’

Former France international Thierry Henry said on Friday he will be disabling his social media accounts to protest against the platforms for not taking action over anonymous account holders who are guilty of racism and bullying online.

The football star, who has about 15 million followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, said the platforms needed to tackle these issues with the same effort they put into taking down material that infringes copyright.

“From tomorrow morning (ie today, Saturday) I will be removing myself from social media until the people in power are able to regulate their platforms with the same vigour and ferocity that they currently do when you infringe copyright,” Henry said in a statement.

“The sheer volume of racism, bullying and resulting mental torture to individuals is too toxic to ignore. There has to be some accountability.

“It is far too easy to create an account, use it to bully and harass without consequence and still remain anonymous. Until this changes, I will be disabling my accounts across all social platforms. I’m hoping this happens soon.”

Last month English football’s governing bodies said that Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were “havens for abuse” and urged the social media companies to tackle the problem in the wake of racist messages aimed at players.

Oliver Dowden, the secretary of state of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), said nobody should be forced to disable their social media accounts due to abuse.

“Social media firms must do more to tackle this and we are introducing new laws to hold platforms to account,” he said.

“This is complex and we must get it right, but I’m absolutely determined to tackle racist abuse online.”

Instagram last month announced a series of measures to tackle online abuse, including removing accounts of people who send abusive messages, and developing new controls to help reduce the abuse people see.

Twitter said in 2019 that “vile content has no place on our service” after it took action on more than 700 cases of “abuse and hateful conduct” related to football in Britain in two weeks and promised to continue its efforts to curb the problem.

Lens/ Reuiters

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