Social media companies must do more to stop online abuse. That is why this weekend we are coming together with English football and other sports and organisations, to boycott social media and demand change.
The PFA is joining English football and wider sport in switching off our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, from 3pm Friday 30 April to 11.59pm on Monday 3 May.
Why are we boycotting social media?
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.
We know that a boycott alone will not eradicate the scourge of online discriminatory abuse, which is why we will continue to take proactive steps to call for change. We will not stop challenging social media companies until we see enough progress.
What change do we want to see?
We are asking for significant action from social media companies, including:
- Apply preventative filtering and blocking measures to stop discriminatory abuse being sent or seen
- Be accountable for safety on platforms and protect users by implementing effective verification
- Ensure real-life consequences for online discriminatory abuse: ban perpetrators, stop account re-registration and support law enforcement
- A warning message to be displayed if a user writes an abusive message and need to enter personal data if they wish to send the message
- Platforms to have robust, reliable and quick measures in place if abusive material is sent or posted
- Transparent quarterly reports on the work social media companies are doing, internally and externally, to eradicate abuse on their platforms
We are also urging the UK Government to ensure its Online Safety Bill will bring in strong legislation to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms.
How can you help?
If you have experienced or witnessed discrimination on social media, you can report it to Kick It Out through their online reporting form or via their reporting app available on both iOS and Android. You should also make your local police force aware by filing a report here.
By reporting online abuse, you can help stop the behaviour and protect other people from seeing the abusive content. Online abuse does not have to be experienced directly by someone in order for that person to report. Everyone has a responsibility to report online hate they see.
Simone Pound, Director of EDI at the PFA said: "Social media channels represent an extension of the working environment for professional footballers, and as the players' union, we are committed to finding solutions that better protect our membership and the wider community from online abuse.
"As part of our work to address this issue, which started with the 24-hour #Enough boycott of social media channels, the PFA has been pushing for collaboration between the platforms, the game, the Government, police and CPS to find solutions and protect players from the abuse they face daily.
"In 2021, with a collective voice, we can hold social media companies to account and send a powerful message to a global audience – abusive behaviour is unacceptable."
Member Wellbeing Support
Many footballers have spoken publicly about the negative impact abuse had on their careers and wellbeing. Dealing with the effects of discriminatory abuse can have a lasting impact and even cast a shadow over your life. The volume of online abuse players face can make this feel worse, but you are not alone.
The PFA has dedicated specialist support available in this area, and we urge any players who are struggling with the emotional impact of abuse to get in touch so we can help.
- PFA Online Abuse Helpline: 0800 368 8484
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org