Lionel Messi joins football’s social media boycott as he demands action to be taken against online abuse.
Barcelona’s star Lionel Messi has thrown his weight behind British football’s social media boycott and asked the major platforms to take quick response on perpetrators of online abuse.
This development comes at a time when Facebook, who owns Instagram are accused of turning a blind eye to discrimination after it emerged the social media giant failed to act on a report of racism from a Premier League club.
FIFA, UEFA, and broadcasters BT Sport and Sky Sports together with clubs and players from the Premier League and Football League came together in solidarity this weekend in a blackout of social platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in an effort to put stress on the social media companies to do more to stop the growing wave of abuse.
And now the Barcelona star Messi, who ranks as the seventh-most followed personality on Instagram in the world and urged his 200 million followers to charge social media companies into taking action.
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“I believe the moment has arrived for us to realize that there is a flesh and blood person behind every profile, someone who laughs, cries, enjoys, suffers, human beings with feelings.
“Nobody deserves to be ill-treated or insulted. We see and experience increasingly worse abuse on social media and nobody is doing anything to prevent it.
“We should condemn this hostility in the strongest possible terms and demand that the social media networks take urgent measures against this behavior.”
“I would like the 200 million people that accompany me online to become 200 million reasons to make social media a safe place of respect where we can share what we want to without fear of being insulted, or have to face racism, abuse, and discrimination.”
Escalating pressure has pushed Facebook to act. Following talks with players, they are proposing a tool that filters any direct message requests on Instagram that contain offensive words, phrases and emojis. They also aim to make it more difficult for someone a player has blocked from reaching them again through a new account.
A Facebook spokesperson informed The Mail on Sunday:
“No one should have to experience abuse anywhere, and it’s against our policies to harass or discriminate against people on Instagram or Facebook. We have already made progress on many of the players’ suggestions, including taking tougher action against people breaking our rules in DMs [direct messages].
“Starting next week, we’ll provide new tools to help prevent people seeing abusive messages from strangers. We continue to work with UK police on hate speech, and respond to valid legal requests for information, which can be essential for investigations.
“We’ll continue listening to feedback and keep fighting hate and racism on our platform.
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Lionel Messi joins football’s social media boycott as he demands action is taken against online abuse.