Premier League write to Twitter and Facebook over abuse

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The Premier League and the English Football Association (FA) have joined forces with other footballing bodies to write to social media companies following a rise in online abuse aimed at footballers.

Manchester United players Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Axel Tuanzebe (twice) and Lauren James as well as West Bromwich Albion’s Romaine Sawyers, Chelsea’s Reece James and Southampton’s Alex Jankewitz have all been victims of racist abuse online in recent weeks.

Premier League referee Mike Dean also received death threats on social media and requested not to be involved in any matches this weekend.

As a result, the English Football League (EFL), women’s professional game, Professional Football Association (PFA), Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) and Kick It Out wrote a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday demanding action.

“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 letter said.

“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.”

The letter also urged the platforms to block any messages or posts before being sent if they contain racist or discriminatory material, to take down abusive material if it does get into circulation, to include an improved verification process for all users and to actively and assist the investigating authorities in identifying the originators of illegal discriminatory material.

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By Ofhani Munyai

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