Burnley Express Sport to unite with English football in social media boycott

The FA, Premier League, EFL, FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out and the FSA will unite for a social media boycott from 3 p.m.on Friday until 23-59 p.m. on Monday evening.

By Chris Boden
Thursday, 29th April 2021, 11:32 am
No room for racism
No room for racism

The boycott is in response to the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football.

And Burnley Express Sport will be joining in, in solidarity.

There will still be a live blog with updates from Monday night’s game with West Ham on our website www.burnleyexpress.net, and the usual coverage afterwards – reaction from Sean Dyche, player ratings and talking points.

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But there will be no live tweeting or facebook posts from our accounts over the specified period.

We feel it is the right think to make a stand, and try and make social media companies do better when it comes to all forms of hate on their platforms, given the incessant stream of abuse which is being doled out, almost entirely without punishment.

We can film a live video at a game, but if there is music playing in the background, it will be taken down due to copyright by these platforms. And yet, people can force their bile on others, and there appears to be little appetite to stop it. How can that be right?

Enough is enough. There have to be consequences.

People should not be able to hide anonymously on these platforms, or be allowed to spread their disgusting abuse as and when they wish.

If it happened in the street, you can bet something would be done about it. Yet many keyboard warriors get away with their prehistoric nonsense.

No one should have to put up with it, whether involved in football or not.

The boycott has been scheduled to take place across a full fixture programme in the men’s and women’s professional game, and will see clubs across the Premier League EFL, WSL 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.

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.

In a letter in 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, those requests are reiterated 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, the various bodies 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 last week.

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters 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.”