Premier League and FA hit out at Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

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What does the letter say?

The letter begins by saying: “As recent weeks have seen the levels of vicious, offensive abuse from users of your services aimed at footballers and match officials rise even further, we write to ask that for reasons of basic human decency you use the power of your global systems to bring this to an end.

“The language used is debasing, often threatening and illegal.

It causes distress to the recipients and the vast majority of people who abhor racism, sexism and discrimination of any kind. We have had many meetings with your executives over the years but the reality is your platforms remain havens for abuse.

“Your inaction has created the belief in the minds of the anonymous perpetrators that they are beyond reach. The relentless flow of racist and discriminatory messages feeds on itself: the more it is tolerated by Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, platforms with billions of users, the more it becomes normal, accepted behaviour.”

It then calls for the following steps to be taken: “Messages and posts should be filtered and blocked before being sent or posted if they contain racist or discriminatory material.

“You should operate robust, transparent, and swift measures to take down abusive material if it does get into circulation.

“All users should be subject to an improved verification process that (only if required by law enforcement) allows for accurate identification of the person behind the account. Steps should also be taken to stop a user that has sent abuse previously from re-registering an account.

“Your platforms should actively and expeditiously assist the investigating authorities in identifying the originators of illegal discriminatory material.”

What has happened recently?

Social media firms have come under concerted pressure after Manchester United’s Axel Tuanzebe and Lauren James, Chelsea’s Reece James as well as Premier League referee Mike Dean, have all received abuse online in recent weeks.

The same has happened with Antonio Rudiger.

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 pressure come from?

Across the entire game and from government.

The FA have already put out statements, while FIFPro, the world players’ union, called for change on Monday.

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.”

He added: “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.”

(Photos: Visionhaus, Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images)

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