All Rangers players and management will not post on social media platforms for a period of one week; Swansea and Birmingham are also boycotting social media channels; Gerrard argues platforms are letting abuse continue
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard says he is “frustrated and angry” at social media companies about continued online abuse and hopes the club’s boycott will help bring about changes.
On Thursday, Rangers announced a player and management team social media boycott in response to online abuse and discrimination.
The club said they were concerned with the daily racist abuse their players have to endure, with captain James Tavernier telling Sky Sports News before the Old Firm game on March 21 every black player at the club has been abused on social media this season.
Sky Bet Championship clubs Swansea City and Birmingham City also announced on Thursday they are boycotting social media for one week following a spate of “abhorrent” racial abuse on platforms.
In his press conference ahead of Sunday’s Scottish Premiership fixture against Hibs, Gerrard said: “It’s been spoken about for long enough now, and it doesn’t seem like Instagram or Twitter or the social media outlets are taking any notice and they’re not listening.
“I think the only way they will take note is if it goes above them. And probably the only people to do that are probably the governments.
“So hopefully if football keeps doing its thing in terms of speaking about it and keeping it in all the media, on the radios, on the TV, hopefully something will be done because enough’s enough and too many people are getting abused on a daily basis.
“And it’s not acceptable.”
Following Tavernier’s admission, striker Kemar Roofe shared examples of some of the abuse he has received, while midfielder Glen Kamara said he is receiving online racist abuse ‘every single day’.
Gerrard added: “It makes you frustrated and it makes you angry that these social media platforms are ignoring it because that’s what they are doing at the end of the day, they are ignoring it and they’re letting it go on.
“And so we felt it was the right thing to do as management. We listened to our senior players and collectively we made a decision which our club have backed, which makes you really proud that you’ve got the club’s backing on something like this.
“Hopefully all the clubs and individuals keep doing their own thing to keep it in the in the media spotlight as well.”
Facebook: We don’t want discriminatory abuse
Facebook, which owns Instagram, has repeatedly said it does not allow attacks on people based on protected characteristics such as race, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation.
A Facebook spokesperson said: “We don’t want discriminatory abuse on Instagram or Facebook.
“We share the goal of tackling it and want to hold people who share it accountable. We do this by taking action on content and accounts that break our rules and cooperating with law enforcement when we receive a valid legal request.
“We also recently announced that we’ll take tougher action when we become aware of people breaking our rules in DMs and we have built tools to help protect people, including the ability to never receive a DM from someone you don’t follow.
“This work is ongoing and we are committed to doing more. We also know these problems are bigger than us, so are working with the industry, government and others to collectively drive societal change through action and education.”
A Twitter spokesperson said: “Alongside our partners in football, we condemn racism in all its forms.
“Racist behaviour, abuse and harassment have absolutely no place on our service. At Twitter, protecting the health of the public conversation is essential to us, and this means making sure Twitter is a safe place to express yourself and follow the conversation about football, without fear of abuse or intimidation.”
Rangers’ and Swansea’s players join a growing list who have been subjected to online abuse in recent weeks, with Brentford’s Ivan Toney also abused following Tuesday night’s goalless draw with Birmingham.
Manchester United quartet Anthony Martial, Axel Tuanzebe, Marcus Rashford and Fred have also been targeted, while Liverpool duo Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita were subjected to racist abuse following their loss to Real Madrid this week.
Arsenal’s former forward Thierry Henry has also described racism on social media as “too toxic to ignore” and disabled all of his accounts following the recent instances on the platform.
Last month, the UK’s football policing lead Detective Chief Constable Mark Roberts said the response of social media companies in assisting the police to identify abusers has been “woeful”.
Bruce: I’m right behind boycotts
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce voiced his support for Rangers, Swansea and Birmingham during a press conference on Friday.
Bruce, who earlier this season revealed he has received death threats on social media platforms, said: “I’m right behind the actions the clubs have taken. The abuse I’ve taken on social media is a scourge. They should ban it all. I see no benefit. Ban the whole lot as far as I’m concerned. It’s vile – I’ve seen it.
“If you’re vulnerable or fragile and people are abusing you it can damage you. The platforms need to police it better, a bit like your mobile telephone.
“I’ve suggested my family come off social media. My son [former professional footballer Alex Bruce] came off Twitter due to the abuse he was getting, and I think my daughter has done the same, too.”
Ornstein: Boycotts commendable but not enough
The Athletic‘s David Ornstein says social media boycotts are a commendable step but are not in themselves a long-term solution to tackle abuse.
He told Sky Sports: “The problem is those dishing out the abuse are not watching these programmes, they are not listening to these messages.
“They don’t care. And they probably feed off the furore it causes every time there is a racist incident, every time there is racist abuse for a player on social media. They get off on it, and they continue, and it perpetuates.
“If their accounts are shut down, they will continue. If Swansea are gone for a week, then those guys will be back when Swansea return.
“I think something more fundamental needs to change here from the companies themselves. Does everyone come off? Is a new platform formed where there are more rigorous checks going on? Do people leave full-stop, in the case of Thierry Henry?
“If the clubs and the players themselves are serious enough about this, it’s not what should happen, but they might need to leave permanently.”
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