The world’s biggest social media platforms are being boycotted by British sports teams, athletes and leading sports bodies over online abuse and discrimination. Football clubs, players, athletes and a number of sporting bodies have begun a four-day boycott of social media in an attempt to tackle abuse and discrimination on their platforms.
It began at 15:00 BST on Friday and will end on Monday at 23:59 BST.
Leading sports bodies has began an 81-hour boycott of social media on Friday by stepping up their demands for companies such as Facebook and Twitter to do more to stop online abuse being sent or seen.
Many of the organisations involved in the boycott has post a message at 9am on Friday saying: “Social media companies must do more to #StopOnlineAbuse. Join us and switch off too, as we collectively demand change.”
A further message follow at 2.55pm, explaining the reasons for the boycott and the changes that need to be made “We want to demonstrate our collective anger at the constant abuse on social media received by footballers and people in the game, as well as others across the world, which goes without any real-world consequences for perpetrators.
The boycott, first announced by a large number of football clubs and players and the Football Association, covers the bank holiday weekend’s programme of fixtures, from 3pm on Friday until 11.59pm on Monday.
The soccer-led campaign has gathered momentum, spreading from clubs and leagues to national and international bodies in tennis, cricket, rugby and cycling.
The Duke of Cambridge, who is president of the FA, has also joined, alongside seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and Williams driver George Russell. “I am fully supportive of the initiative and if me doing it helps put pressure on those platforms in order to help fight against it then, for sure, I am happy to do so,” said Hamilton.
Former World Cup winner and Arsenal’s record goal-scorer Thierry Henry, who removed himself from social media last month, hailed the boycott as a “start” in the battle against racism and discrimination.
On Friday morning, Alex Scott, who played for Arsenal and England before moving into broadcasting, urged members of the public to get involved. “Join us and switch off too, as we collectively demand change,” she wrote on Twitter.
European soccer body UEFA has said it will stay silent across its platforms over the weekend, starting at 1500 BST (1600 CEST) on Friday.
English cricket will join football’s social media blackout this weekend in response to continued online racist abuse of professional players in the country, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on Wednesday.
England Rugby and Scottish Rugby said on Thursday they would join football and other sports’ social media blackout this weekend in a show of solidarity against online abuse.
The Premier League released a statement prior to the four-day silence, saying it would not stop challenging companies “until discriminatory online abuse is removed from our game and wider society”. “We know that a boycott alone will not eradicate this, which is why we will continue to take proactive steps to call for change,” the statement continued.
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said in a statement: “Racist behavior of any form is unacceptable and the appalling abuse we are seeing players receive on social media platforms cannot be allowed to continue.”
He added “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.”
“We want social media companies to do more and to act faster,” said Sanjay Bhandari, the chair of Kick It Out. “We need them to make their platforms a hostile environment for trolls rather than for the football family. We need the government to hold its nerve and keep its promises to regulate.”