Instagram plans to combat abuse after Premier League stars were threatened

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What has Instagram said?

The Facebook-owned company said in a statement: “Today we’re announcing some new measures, including removing the accounts of people who send abusive messages, and developing new controls to help reduce the abuse people see in their DMs.

“We’re also announcing that we’ll take tougher action when we become aware of people breaking our rules in DMs.

“If someone continues to send violating messages, we’ll disable their account. We’ll also disable new accounts created to get around our messaging restrictions, and will continue to disable accounts we find that are created purely to send abusive messages.

“We recognize that seeing abusive DMs in the first place takes a toll. We’re currently working on a new feature designed to help with this very issue, which will incorporate feedback from our community. We hope to launch it in the coming months.”

What abuse has there been?

United’s Tuanzebe and James were both racially abused on social media over the weekend.

Chelsea’s Reece James, brother of Lauren, has also been abused in recent weeks. Team-mate Antonio Rudiger revealed that he had received significant racist abuse over the past few months.

Referee Dean contacted the police after his family were threatened and he has requested to not take charge of a Premier League game this weekend.

Where has the pressure on social media companies come from?

On Monday, the FA called on social media companies to “step up” following another spate of racist abuse directed at footballers over the weekend.

“Social media companies need to step up and take accountability and action to ban abusers from their platforms, gather evidence that can lead to prosecution and support making their platforms free from this type of abhorrent abuse,” a statement said.

They also urged the government to take legislative action to help prevent such instances from happening.

Have any other institutions intervened?

Yes. FIFPro, the world players’ union, released a statement on Monday: “FIFPRO is calling on public institutions to urgently implement effective protections against racial abuse and hate-speech on social media.

“Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram now form an integral part of the professional lives of football players and other athletes. They are an extension to their workplace.

“However, until now, these platforms have largely failed to address abusive behaviour in a strong and unequivocal manner.”

What has the government said?

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, tweeted on Monday morning: “Online racist abuse of footballers is absolutely shocking & must stop.

“In advance of this recent spate of cases, I called a meeting to hear first hand accounts of the daily abuse players receive and the awful toll it takes on them.

“We are going to change the law to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms & they can start showing their duty of care to players today by weeding out racist abuse now.”

(Photo: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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